Book Spotlight: Dear Dana, by Amy Weinland Daughters

About the book: Dear Dana: That time I went crazy and wrote all 580 of my Facebook friends a handwritten letter

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ She Writes Press (May 17, 2022)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ May 17, 2022
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English

DearDanaWhen Amy Daughters reconnected with her old pal Dana on Facebook, she had no idea how it would change her life. Though the two women hadn’t had any contact in thirty years, it didn’t take them long to catch up—and when Amy learned that Dana’s son Parker was doing a second stint at St. Jude battling cancer, she was suddenly inspired to begin writing the pair weekly letters.

When Parker died, Amy—not knowing what else to do—continued to write Dana. Eventually, Dana wrote back, and the two became pen pals, sharing things through the mail that they had never shared before. The richness of the experience left Amy wondering something: If my life could be so changed by someone I considered “just a Facebook friend,” what would happen if I wrote all my Facebook friends a letter?

A whopping 580 handwritten letters later Amy’s life, and most of all her heart, would never, ever, be the same again. As it turned out, there were actual individuals living very real lives behind each social media profile, and she was beautifully connected to each of those extraordinary, flawed people for a specific reason. They loved her, and she loved them. And nothing—not politics, beliefs, or lifestyle—could separate them.

Praise for Dear Dana

“This is a book for anyone who wonders about the differences between a Facebook friend and a Real-Life friend and who yearns to see a person’s real life behind their Facebook image. It is also about the power of prayer and the abundance of kindness in our world. But ultimately, it’s about connection and how we are all connected when we come from love.” Rivvy Neshama, author of “Recipes for a Sacred Life: True Stories and a Few Miracles”

“Amy shows us how something as simple as a letter — let alone 580 of them! — can change a life. Who else would decide to write a personal letter to every one of their Facebook friends? The stories from these letters provide insights into how we can help people through difficult times and connect with others—and, of course, plenty of good laughs.” Brad Aronson, bestselling author of “HumanKind: Changing the World One Small Act At a Time”

“An intriguing and inspiring exploration of different forms of communication.” Kirkus Reviews

“Dear Dana is an inspirational memoir about caring for friends near and far by reviving a lost art.” Foreword Reviews

Pre-Order Dear Dana

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million


About the author, Amy Weinland Daughters

AMY DAUGHTERS has spent the past 10 years freelancing on topics from college football to emotions. She is the author of “You Cannot Mess This Up: A True Story That Never Happened” (2019), for which she received recognition at the 2019 Foreword INDIES and the 2020 Next Generation Indie Awards. When she’s not writing, Daughters can be found researching history, golfing, or ribbon dancing. She lives in Tomball, Texas with her husband Willie and two sons, Will and Matthew.

Connect with Amy:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

DearDana2

 

Review and Giveaway: Comfort Zone, by Kimberly Fish

BNR Comfort Zone

 

About the book Comfort Zone

  • Genre: Contemporary / Second Chance Romance / Women’s Fiction
  • Publisher: Fish Tales Publishing
  • Date of Publication: November 1, 2021
  • Number of Pages: 289 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Cover Comfort ZoneThe award-winning author of Comfort Songs, Comfort Plans, and Comfort Foods digs into the life of single-mom Anna Weber, an appraiser who gives value to other people’s found treasures. On assignment to research a handwritten sheet of music, Anna helps a stranded motorist, only to discover she’s rescued retired NFL quarterback Jack Moses. His confidence and fascination for solving problems makes him impossible for Anna to ignore even as they both dart along separate deadlines to save the finances at an inner-city school. Little does Anna know that as she wrestles with secrets from her past and a suspicious approach to people, Jack is running too—dodging women, pro athletes, and a future with no definable end zone.

As a nemesis threatens Anna’s young daughters, these two unlikely partners discover that it’s in stepping back from years of self-sufficiency that Anna and Jack can find the best treasure of all: a series of sweet, second chances.

Praise and Awards for this book:

“Kimberly Fish’s Comfort books are wonderful, charming stories set in the Texas Hill Country. Fans of small towns family relationships will enjoy these feel-good books. Two thumbs up!” – Jan Moran, USA Today bestselling author of Seabreeze Inn. 

Comfort Zone is a Literary Titan Gold Award winner and a Reader Views Bronze Award winner in romance. It was also a runner-up in the regional fiction category of the New England Book Festival awards.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Kimberly Fish

Author Photo FishKimberly Fish has been a professional writer in marketing and media for over thirty years, with regular contributions to area newspapers and magazines. As an accidental historian, she wrote two novels, The Big Inch and Harmon General, both based on factual events  in Longview, Texas that changed world history. Kimberly also offers a set of contemporary women’s fiction, based in the Texas Hill Country, that reveal her fascination with characters discovering their grit and sweet, second chances; all four of these novels have won distinguished awards

Connect with Kimberly:

Website | Facebook  |  Twitter I  Amazon  |  Goodreads | YouTube | Instagram | Pinterest | BookBub


XTRA Comfort Zone series graphic

My Thoughts

MissMelissOpening a new Kimberly Fish novel – especially a Comfort Stories novel – is more than just the beginning of a good read. It’s a road trip back to the fictional home town we all wish we were from. It is, as described in this latest installment, Comfort Zone, “a town of free-thinkers,” full of entrepreneurial spirit, a love of art and nature, and kind hearts.

In this visit to Comfort, TX, we meet Anna, an appraiser of relics and treasures, and Jack, a retired NFL football player. It would be easy to predict that a gift to the local school brings them together and things progress from there, but that would be a gross simplification of this story,  which is more than a second-chance romance, but a nuanced character study of two people who have been banged about a bit by life and circumstance.

I really loved getting to know Jack and Anna (and her two daughters). Anna’s job, especially, fascinated me. Part detective, part storyteller… I’d love to spend an hour or two just hearing the tales she might tell. All four of these new characters were as real and dimensional, with plausible flaws and anxieties, as anyone you might meet at a local coffee shop (or taco truck, or lavender farm), and I especially appreciated the way Anna observed her friend Lacy’s romance with local celebrity chef Rudy, which relationship was the focus of the previous entry into the Comfort Stories collection, Comfort Foods.

My favorite character, however, has got to be Comfort itself. It’s a slightly idealized small town, and it’s not difficult to imagine the various women (and men) in Anna’s friend-circle getting together to share their overlapping lives and businesses. Comfort is one of those places you just know has wide sidewalks, friendly dogs, excellent coffee, a decent bookstore, and real mail in the mailboxes.

If you enjoy romances between working adults, stories where there’s enough mystery to keep the plot going without being a whodunnit – mysteries of discovery and self-discovery – and a cup or two of cozy life, then the Comfort series as a whole, and this novel, Comfort Zone, specifically, will satisfy your heart and mind. More than that, you’ll feel like you’ve visited the hometown you were never actually born in.

Goes well with: a farmhouse breakfast – dark roast coffee, toast, eggs, and bacon.


Giveaway

 ONE WINNER!

Autographed copy of Comfort Zone,
hand-painted note card from artist Elaine McMillan,
and NFL official Silver Series football signed by Jack Moses.
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 4/29/2022)

 

Giveaway Comfort Zone

 

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or Visit the tour page at Lone Star Literary Life.

4/19/22 Review Jennie Reads
4/19/22 BONUS Promo Hall Ways Blog
4/20/22 Review Bibliotica
4/20/22 BONUS Promo LSBBT Blog
4/21/22 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
4/22/22 Review StoreyBook Reviews
4/23/22 Review Reading by Moonlight
4/24/22 Review Rox Burkey Blog
4/25/22 Review Book Fidelity
4/25/22 BONUS Promo All the Ups and Downs
4/26/22 Review The Plain-Spoken Pen
4/27/22 Review It’s Not All Gravy
4/28/22 Review Forgotten Winds

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Review & Giveaway: The Bones of Amoret, by Arthur Herbert

BNR Bones of Amoret

About the book, The Bones of Amoret

  • Genre: Mystery /Suspense
  • Publisher: Stitched Smile Publications
  • Date of Publication: April 1, 2022
  • Number of Pages: 323 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Cover Bones of AmoretIn this enigmatic follow up to his critically acclaimed debut novel The Cuts that Cure, Arthur Herbert returns to the Texas-Mexico border with this saga of a small town’s bloody loss of innocence.

Amoret,Texas, 1982. Life along the border is harsh, but in a world where cultures work together to carve a living from the desert landscape, Blaine Beckett lives a life of isolation. A transplanted Boston intellectual, for twenty years locals have viewed him as a snob, a misanthrope, an outsider. He seems content to stand apart until one night when he vanishes into thin air amid signs of foul play.

Noah Grady, the town doctor, is a charming and popular good ol’ boy. He’s also a keeper of secrets, both the town’s and his own. He watches from afar as the mystery of Blaine’s disappearance unravels and rumors fly. Were the incipient cartels responsible? Was it a local with a grudge? Or did Blaine himself orchestrate his own disappearance? Then the unthinkable happens, and Noah begins to realize he’s considered a suspect.

Paced like a lit fuse and full of dizzying plot twists, The Bones of Amoret is a riveting whodunit that will keep you guessing all the way to its shocking conclusion.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Arthur Herbert

Author Photo HerbertArthur Herbert was born and raised in small town Texas. He worked on offshore oil rigs, as a bartender, a landscaper at a trailer park, and as a social worker before going to medical school. For the last eighteen years, he’s worked as a trauma and burn surgeon, operating on all ages of injured patients. He continues to run a thriving practice.

He’s won multiple awards for his scientific writing, and his first novel, The Cuts that Cure, spent ten days as an Amazon #1 Best Seller.  His second novel, The Bones of Amoret, will be released on April 1, 2022 through Stitched Smile Publishers. Arthur currently lives in New Orleans, with his wife Amy and their dogs.

Arthur loves hearing from readers, so don’t hesitate to email him at arthur@arthurherbertwriter.com.

Connect with Arthur:

WEBSITE  | FACEBOOK  |  TWITTER |  AMAZON  |  GOODREADS | BOOKBUB


My Thoughts

MissMelissI have not read Arthur Herbert’s first novel, and I’m really sorry about that, because this author’s voice caught me from the first page. (I’ve since purchased a the Kindle version.) The Bones of Amoret, which is not a sequel, but a second, stand-alone story, is the kind of thriller that I love to read. It’s gritty and earthy, and there are dangerous acts of questionable legality, but at it’s heart this is a novel about love – between friends, between parents and children, between brothers-by-choice – and it’s also about family and about loss. As well, it’s a pages-long proof that doing what is right is not always easy, and that even good people sometimes do terrible things.

Told from the POV of country (well, US border) doctor, Noah Grady, this book opens with dialogue and description that immediately put the reader in the Southwest Texas landscape. You can feel the heat from the road, and taste the dust in the air, and while the conversation isn’t one most of us would ever be party to – first, the number of people being helped across the border, and then the discovery of another man, seriously dehydrated and carrying quite a lot of cocaine – the cadences of the speakers, casual language about far-from-casual events – are familiar.

As the novel progresses the main plot unfolds – Blaine Beckett has disappeared. It’s difficult to feel sympathy for him, as he’s pretty universally disliked by the community, but his disappearance leads to other, darker events, that do cause anger, tears, frustration, and eventually, satisfaction. It’s this ability to elicit deeper emotional responses from the reader that is author Herbert’s greatest skill, because he  does it with plain prose that is reminiscent of Hemingway seasoned with a dash of Twain.

I also appreciated the author’s commitment to period authenticity. The Bones of Amoret takes place in 1982, when AIDS was still called GRID, and sonogram machines fill half a room. Herbert never hits us over the head with his “vintage” setting, but he also ensures that there are no obvious anachronisms pulling us out of the novel.

Bottom line: If you like stories that are both compelling and compassionate, while also being incredibly relevant, The Bones of Amoret is a worthy choice.

Goes well with: chicken mole, dirty rice, and negra Modelo.


Giveaway

 THREE WINNERS! 

Autographed Copies of The Bones of Amoret
(US Only. Ends midnight, CDT, 4/15/2022.)

yGiveaway Bones of Amoret

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4/5/22 Review The Clueless Gent
4/5/22 Review Bibliotica
4/5/22 BONUS Promo Hall Ways Blog
4/6/22 Review Boys’ Mom Reads
4/6/22 Review Julia Picks 1
4/7/22 Review The Book’s Delight
4/7/22 BONUS Promo LSBBT Blog
4/8/22 Review The Plain-Spoken Pen
4/8/22 Review Writing and Music
4/9/22 Review The Obsessed Reader
4/10/22 Review Missus Gonzo
4/11/22 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
4/11/22 Review Book Fidelity
4/12/22 Review It’s Not All Gravy
4/12/22 BONUS Promo All the Ups and Downs
4/13/22 Review Forgotten Winds
4/13/22 Review Shelf Life Blog
4/14/22 Review Reading by Moonlight

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Review: Brilliance Beyond Borders, by Chinwe Esimai

About the Book, Brilliance Beyond Borders: Remarkable Women Leaders Share the Power of Immigrace

  • Publisher: Harper Horizon (February 15, 2022)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages

Brilliance Beyond BordersWhat if the traditional narrative about immigrant women–that those who come to the United States will succeed as long as they work hard, stay focused, and have supportive families–is a lie?

Of the 73 million women in the US workforce, 11.5 million are foreign-born. The truth is–even in the midst of headlines and political debates about immigration reform and in the wake of MeToo and other female-centric movements–millions of immigrants, especially women, aren’t living their fullest potential.

Based on her personal experience and the stories of trailblazing women from around the world and in diverse industries, author Chinwe Esimai shares five indispensable traits that make an ocean of difference between immigrants who live as mere shadows of their truest potential and those who find purpose and fulfillment–what Chinwe refers to as their immigrace:

  • Saying yes to your immigrace, an immigrant woman’s expression of her highest purpose and potential
  • Daring to play in the big leagues
  • Transforming failure
  • Embracing change and blending differences
  • Finding joy and healing

These five traits are the foundation of the Brilliance Blueprint, a step-by-step guide to help readers achieve to their own extraordinary results and build their own remarkable legacies.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the Author, Chinwe Esimai

Chinwe Esimai is an award-winning lawyer, corporate executive, writer, and speaker who is passionate about inspiring generations of women leaders.

She is Managing Director and Chief Anti-Bribery Officer at Citigroup, Inc. She is the first person to hold this title in the bank’s history. In this role, she oversees Citi’s global anti-bribery program, which develops and maintains a framework for compliance with anti-bribery laws and regulations across all of Citi’s lines of business, covering over 200,000 employees, and in over 167 countries where Citi does business. 

In March 2020, Leading Ladies Africa named Chinwe one of 100 Most Inspiring Women. Tropics Magazine named her on the prestigious list of African Doers: Most Powerful Africans Shaping the Future of Africa. The Nigerian Lawyers Association named Chinwe Trailblazer of the Year, and she is the recipient of the Face-to-Face Africa Corporate Leadership Award. 

A passionate philanthropist, she is chair of the Board of Harambee USA Foundation, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to supporting education and sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa, and supports a wide variety of charitable causes. 

Chinwe’s leadership insights have been featured on her blog and in leading publications around the world, including ForbesThrive GlobalBlack EnterpriseReal Business UK, Business Intelligence Middle EastKnowledge@Wharton, and Current History, which has also featured prominent authors such as George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, and Condoleezza Rice. 

A prolific public speaker, Chinwe has delivered keynotes to prestigious audiences, academic institutions, and conferences around the world. She has spoken three times at the United Nations. 

Connect with Chinwe:

Goodreads | Twitter


My Thoughts

MissMelissAs a third-generation American, my immigrant roots are still close to me, so I was excited to read Brilliance Beyond Borders: Remarkable Women Leaders Share the Power of Immigrace. My own relatives arrived here in a time when there were fewer opportunities for women, no matter their origins, so it was interesting to me to learn how contemporary women perceive their struggles.

Author Chinwe Esimai personalizes the stories of seventeen women by including her own. I’ve had many friends who have either Americanized or completely changed their names in order to “make things easier,” so her sharing the recommendation of doing the same – and her decision to retain her name and identity – really resonated with me. In my own family, our surname was changed to a more American word when my great-grandparents opened a diner. (They eventually changed it back.)

I also appreciated the concept of immigrace – the finding of true purpose and fulfillment. While used by Esiimai to descibe immigrant women, specifically, that gap between where we are and where we should be in life, in business, in relationships, is something all women can appreciate, because those goals are universal.

This is a great book for any woman coming into adulthood right now, especially for those who are recent arrivals to this country. The concepts are clearly presented, and the individual women profiled have stories that are poignant, frustrating, and uplifting, often at once.

Goes well with: espresso con panna and thin mint Girl Scout cookies.


TLC Book ToursVisit the Other Great Tour Stops

Tuesday, February 15th: @diariesofabibliophile

Wednesday, February 16th: @as_seen_in_life

Thursday, February 17th: @nurse_bookie

Tuesday, February 22nd: @booknerdkat

Tuesday, February 22nd: @glendaofalltime

Wednesday, February 23rd: @purrfectpages

Wednesday, February 23rd: @welovebigbooksandwecannotlie

Thursday, February 24th: @karendeeandabc

Thursday, February 24th: @wonderousreads

Friday, February 25th: Helen’s Book Blog

Friday, February 25th: @chill_jilland_read

Saturday, February 26th: @suethebookie

Monday, February 28th: @bookdragon217

Tuesday, March 1st: @colesbooknook

Wednesday, March 2nd: @readingwithmrsleaf

Thursday, March 3rd: @bookitqueen

Friday, March 4th: @mrsboomreads

Monday, March 14th: 5 Minutes for Books

Tuesday, March 15th: Girl Who Reads

Wednesday, March 16th: @shobizreads

Thursday, March 17th: Bibliotica

Sunday, March 20th: Subakka.bookstuff Blog and @subakka.bookstuff

Review: The Door-Man, by Peter M. Wheelwright

About the book, The Door-Man

• Publisher: Fomite (February 1, 2022)
• Paperback: 388 pages

The Door-ManIn 1917, during the construction of a large reservoir in the Catskill hamlet of Gilboa, New York, a young paleontologist named Winifred Goldring identified fossils from an ancient forest flooded millions of years ago when the earth’s botanical explosion of oxygen opened a path for the evolution of humankind. However, the reservoir water was needed for NYC, and the fossils were buried once again during the flooding of the doomed town.

A mix of fact and fiction, The Door-Man follows three generations of interwoven families who share a deep wound from Gilboa’s last days. The story is told by Winifred’s grandson, a disaffected NYC doorman working near the Central Park Reservoir during its decommissioning in 1993.

The brief and provisional nature of one’s life on earth – and the nested histories of the places, people and events that give it meaning – engender a reckoning within the tangled roots and fragile bonds of family.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Peter M. Wheelwright

Peter-WheelwrightPeter is a writer, architect, and educator. He is Emeritus Professor at The New School, Parsons School of Design in New York City, where he taught design and wrote on matters of environmental philosophy, design theory, and social practices in the built and natural worlds. Peter comes from a family of writers with an abiding affection for the natural world. His uncle Peter Matthiessen was a three time National Book Award winner, and his brother Jeff Wheelwright is a writer of environmental non-fiction. Educated at Trinity College where he studied painting and sculpture, he went on to receive his Master in Architecture from Princeton University. As an architect, his design work has been widely published in both the national and international press. The Kaleidoscope House, a modernist dollhouse designed in collaboration with artist Laurie Simmons is in the Collection of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art.

Connect with Peter:

Website | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

MissMelissUnlike many of the others who have reviewed The Door-Man for this tour, I’m not fameyiliar with Richard Powers. I came to this novel after a re-read of a bunch of Dan Brown novels, and my experience with it was shaped by the writing of John Stilgoe, whose books like Outside Lies Magic teach us to see beyond the surface of our surroundings

The image of bones in the water, from the opening scenes of this book, will haunt me for a long time. It’s such a visceral concept, and even though it exists only in the mind of the main character Winifred Goldring, it’s one that really sets the tone for this novel.

And what a novel it is! Peter Wheelwright has spun a story that combines an imaginative tale, one that speaks to those of us who grew up reading things like Jurassic Park, with just enough real history to lend the whole work an air of verisimilitude. The city of Gilboa, NY,  for example, really did create a reservoir that flooded out some of the world’s oldest trees, moving the town to accommodate the needed water supply.

I’d never heard of Gilboa before reading The Door-Man, but I have always been fascinated by the idea of flooded towns, whether they are actual towns (there’s one in the the Dakotas) or bad B-movies on SyFy.

But Wheelwright’s novel is no b-movie. Rather, it’s a thoughtful, immersive tale of the generations of (fictional) people who were affected by the events in Gilboa, focusing on one family in particular, and moving back and forth in time as it weaves their story into the actual history of the region.

We are introduced to “the men of the family” by Winfred, but the story also introduces us to Piedmont Livingston Kinsolver, who tells us, “I am only a door-man, one of many along Central Park West. No one suspects that it is my considered choice.”

Combining history, science, and family drama, The Door-Man is a novel for those of us who look at the world around us and wonder, “What if?”

Goes well with: clam chowder from an old family recipe, and crusty bread.


Review Stops TLC Book Tours

Wednesday, February 2nd: Books, Cooks, and Looks

Friday, February 4th: Instagram: @just_another_mother_with_books

Monday, February 7th: Musings of a Literary Wanderer

Tuesday, February 8th: Run Wright

Wednesday, February 9th: Instagram: @readingfortheseasons

Tuesday, February 15th: Instagram: @rynicolereads

Wednesday, February 16th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Thursday, March 3rd: Instagram: @hillysreads

Monday, March 14th: Lit and Life

TBD: Instagram: @babygotbooks4life

TBD: BookNAround

TBD: Wednesday, March 15th: Bibliotica

Spotlight and Excerpt Tour: The Summer Getaway, by Susan Mallery

About the Book, The Summer Getaway The Summer Getaway

  • Publisher: HQN; Original edition (March 15, 2022)
  • Hardcover: 416 pages

One woman discovers the beauty in chaos in this poignant and heartwarming story about the threads that hold family together from #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery.

One woman discovers the beauty in chaos in this poignant and heartwarming story about the threads that hold family together from #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery.

With her divorce settlement about to run out and a mortgage she can’t afford, Robyn Caldwell needs a plan for her future. She nurtured her family and neglected herself. But how’s she supposed to think when her daughter has become the most demanding bride ever, her son won’t even consider college, her best friend is on the brink of marital disaster and her ex is making a monumentally bad decision that could bring everything crashing down on Robyn’s head? So when her great-aunt Lillian invites her to Santa Barbara for the summer, Robyn hops on the first plane.

But it’s hard to run away when you’re the heart of the family. One by one, everyone she left behind follows her across the country. Somehow, their baggage doesn’t feel as heavy in the sun-drenched, mishmash mansion. The more time Robyn spends with free-spirited Lillian, the more she sees the appeal in taking chances—on dreams, on love, on family. Life is meant to be lived on purpose. All she has to do is muster the courage to take a chance on herself.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Pre-order from Amazon | Add to Goodreads


About the Author, Susan Mallery

Susan MalleryOne woman discovers the beauty in chaos in this poignant and heartwarming story about the threads that hold family together from #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery.

With her divorce settlement about to run out and a mortgage she can’t afford, Robyn Caldwell needs a plan for her future. She nurtured her family and neglected herself. But how’s she supposed to think when her daughter has become the most demanding bride ever, her son won’t even consider college, her best friend is on the brink of marital disaster and her ex is making a monumentally bad decision that could bring everything crashing down on Robyn’s head? So when her great-aunt Lillian invites her to Santa Barbara for the summer, Robyn hops on the first plane.

But it’s hard to run away when you’re the heart of the family. One by one, everyone she left behind follows her across the country. Somehow, their baggage doesn’t feel as heavy in the sun-drenched, mishmash mansion. The more time Robyn spends with free-spirited Lillian, the more she sees the appeal in taking chances—on dreams, on love, on family. Life is meant to be lived on purpose. All she has to do is muster the courage to take a chance on herself.

Connect with Susan:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


Read an Excerpt

Since her parents’ divorce four years ago, Cord Caldwell had been enjoying the single life. He was a serial dater who always had a girlfriend. The longest she’d known him to be without someone in his life was maybe three days. Her mother, on the other hand, had waited a year to start dating. She told Harlow that she hadn’t met anyone interesting enough to see more than a couple of times. That had changed about a year ago, when her mom had gotten involved with Jase, a local cardiologist. They’d become a thing, dating exclusively. Her mother rarely shared details, unlike her dad, who sometimes told her too much.

She waited a couple of minutes, but her father showed no signs of ending the call. Finally she caught his eye and tapped on her watch.

“Hey, let me call you back,” he said, his tone low and sexy. “Uh-huh. Me, too.”

Harlow did her best not to gag. Yes, she and her father were both adults, but she didn’t like seeing this side of him. He was her parent, not a friend. But Cord had never been big on boundaries.

“What’s up?” he asked when he’d ended the call.

“We’re back from the charter.” She tossed him the keys. “She’s clean and ready for tomorrow. Austin’s off, and I’m taking out the fishermen. I’ll be back at five thirty.” In the morning. Not her favorite, but part of the job. “You’ll look over the paperwork from the lawyer?”

Her father hesitated just long enough for her to guess the truth. “Dad, why won’t you read through the offer? You have to agree to the terms before we can move forward on buying the business.”

“I’ll get to it.”

“It’s been nearly a week. Can you read it tonight?”

“Sure. Tonight.”

She ignored her surge of frustration. “We talked about this all last summer. You said it was a great idea for us to expand into the easy money of kayak and paddleboard rentals. I did everything you said. I found a good business to buy, I came up with a business plan, I talked to a lawyer, and now we’re ready to present an offer as soon as you say go. Have you changed your mind?”

“I’ve been busy, Harlow. I’ll get to it.”

When? But she knew there was no point in pushing. Her father moved at his own pace.

“Then I guess I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said before walking out of his office.

She collected her handbag, then joined Enid out front.

“What?” her friend asked. “You upset?”

“It’s just my dad. He’s dragging his feet on the purchase.”

“Of the business you want him to buy?”

“Yeah. But I’ll let it go. Come on, you. We’ll have the best girls’ night out ever.”

Enid laughed. “That’s a very high bar.”


Check Out the Other Great Blogs on this Tour

Monday, February 21st: Books Cooks Looks

Tuesday, February 22nd: Reading Reality

Wednesday, February 23rd:SusanLovesBooks

Thursday, February 24th: Kahakai Kitchen

Friday, February 25th: From the TBR Pile

Friday, February 25th: View from the Birdhouse

Sunday, February 27th: Subakka.bookstuff

Monday, February 28th: Laura’s Reviews

Tuesday, March 1st: Bookchickdi

Wednesday, March 2nd: The Bookish Dilettante

Thursday, March 3rd: What is That Book About

Friday, March 4th: The Romance Dish

Sunday, March 6th: The Cozy Book Blog

Monday, March 7th: Girl Who Reads

Tuesday, March 8th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, March 9th: Helen’s Book Blog

Thursday, March 10th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Friday, March 11th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Sunday, March 13th: Novel Gossip

Monday, March 14th: Books and Bindings

 

This Excerpt Tour is hosted by TLC Book Tours.

 

Spotlight and Giveaway: Ghost Agents by Nita DeBorde

BNR Ghost Agents

 

About the book, Ghost Agents

  • Categories: Science Fiction / Cozy Mystery / Paranormal / Texas History
  • Series: The Ghost Agents Trilogy
  • Publisher: Mabelonia Press
  • Date of Publication: July 31, 2021
  • Number of Pages: 309 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Cover Ghost AgentsAn organization that has operated in secret for centuries… a mystery that threatens to burn it all to the ground… and she’s the only agent who can stop it…

To the residents and tourists of Galveston Island, Claire Abelard is the friendly young woman who works at the local candy store by day and leads ghost tours of the island’s haunted locations by night. They don’t realize this persona is a cover for Claire’s real job as an agent of the Bureau for Historical Preservation, a clandestine organization that monitors and assists energy projections, or the entities more commonly known as “ghosts.”

When projections begin disappearing from around the island, Claire worries that history may be repeating itself. She launches a dangerous investigation and uncovers a sinister, arcane organization whose agenda threatens not only Galveston’s ghosts, but everything she has worked her whole life to protect.

The truth behind the disappearances rocks Claire’s world to its core and shows her that ghosts aren’t the only things that can come back to haunt you.

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About the author, Nita DeBorde

author photo DeBorde 2020Nita DeBorde is a published author and teacher from Houston, TX. Writing and teaching are her two major passions, though traveling and being dog-mom to a crazy Staffordshire-Boxer mix named Mabel are high on the list as well.

Nita has taught high school French for more than 20 years and absolutely loves her “day job” job (about 95% of the time). She loves to travel, and not surprisingly, France is her favorite destination, though her home state of Texas runs a close second.

She is also a huge history buff, which comes through in her fiction writing, and particularly in her latest novel, Ghost Agents, a genre-defying, cozy paranormal mystery with a little sci-fi and romance thrown into the mix. Ghost Agents: Revelations, the second book in the Ghost Agents Trilogy, is slated for release in March 2022.

Nita’s first novel, Project Lachesis, is currently available in both Kindle and hardcopy format from Amazon.com.

Her first published work, a Christian allegory titled Lessons from the Meadow, was published in December of 2013 under the pen name A.M. Ward. Stay tuned for more titles by A.M. Ward in the Christian fiction genre.

Connect with Nita:

WEBSITE ◆ FACEBOOK ◆ TWITTER AMAZON  ◆  GOODREADS


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Review and Giveaway: Out of Temper, by Amber Royer

BNR Out of Temper

 

About the Book: Out of Temper (Bean to Bar Mysteries #3)

  • Categories: Cozy Mystery / Women Sleuth / Romance
  • Publisher: Golden Tip Press
  • Date of Publication: February 1, 2022
  • Number of Pages: 264 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Out of TemperFelicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop on Galveston’s historic Strand has been the scene of two murders – both of which she has been instrumental in helping solve. So when she gets invited to demo her chocolate skills aboard a cruise ship sailing out of the local port, she’s excited at the chance to get away from the shop long enough to regain her equilibrium. She even brings her best friend along and makes plans for time at the spa. But when she gets on board, she finds out that she’s been booked for a mystery-themed cruise, and said best friend, Autumn, has to finally deal with the real reasons she quit writing mysteries. Only – if that wasn’t stressful enough – it doesn’t take long before there’s a real murder on the cruise, and someone Felicity knows becomes the prime suspect. When said suspect asks her for help, she can’t exactly say no, can she?

Felicity finds herself surrounded by cruise goers who all had connections to the victim – and finds that both Logan (her business partner, whom she recently kissed) and Arlo (the cop who was once Felicity’s first boyfriend, before she moved away from Galveston) are dealing with the case until more official help can arrive. How will Felicity survive the ensuing awkwardness?

One thing that helps: the retired police dog turned therapy dog she meets on board. Satchmo helps Felicity deal with being back on the water after tragedy in her past – and also helps her uncover a vital clue to the case. Can Felicity unmask the killer and keep a friend from being framed before all the suspects leave the ship?

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About the Author, Amber Royer

Amber RoyerAmber Royer writes the Chocoverse comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the Bean to Bar Mysteries. She is also the author of Story Like a Journalist: a Workbook for Novelists, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach. Amber and her husband live in the DFW Area, where you can often find them hiking or taking landscape/architecture/wildlife photographs.  If you are very nice to Amber, she might make you cupcakes.  Chocolate cupcakes, of course! Amber blogs about creative writing technique and all things chocolate.

Connect with Amber

WEBSITE ◆ BLOG ◆ FACEBOOK ◆ TWITTER AMAZON ◆ GOODREADS  ◆INSTAGRAM  ◆  YOUTUBE


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI’ve long been a fan of cozy mysteries having been raised – rather appropriately – on TV shows like Magnum P.I. (he can believe he’s an action hero all he wants, that show was cozy) and Murder, She Wrote, and on series like Lillian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who… novels, and the amazing Mrs. Pollifax series by Dorothy Gilman. It’s as if I’ve had a lifetime of training that left me primed and ready for Amber Royer’s “Bean to Bar” series, though alas, I’m only encountering it with this book – book three – Out of Temper.

I’m so sorry I waited this long.

Out of Temper is a breathtakingly brilliant read combining a dynamic cast of quirky characters, led by chocolatier and accidental sleuth, Felicity Koerber, with the perfect “locked room” setting: a cruise ship, and mixing in a murder.

I liked Felicity from the start, and really enjoyed the first-person narrative from her perspective. First person can be tricky to do well, but author Royer handles it deftly, and it really gave this story more impact. Felicity’s best friend, Autumn, who just happens to write mysteries, her colleague Logan, and her longtime-friend Arlo comprise the core cast, but Ash, Craig, Bea, and Bea’s beagle, Satchmo, round out the story providing motive, murder, and a means of solving it (not necessarily in that order – because spoilers).

It will only out me as a dog lover when I confess that after Felicity, Satchmo was my favorite character.

What I liked about this novel was the way Royer balanced the pacing. The business of the convention at sea was intercut nicely  both with Felicitiy’s angst over her lovelife, her legitimate concern about her chocolate making, and her amateur detective work. No element seemed out of place, no thread was too long or too short.

I also want to applaud Royer for working animals into her story so organically. Like small children, animals can take over a story in unpleasant ways if written too sweetly. This author made Satchmo a true character rather than an accessory or a piece of comic relief and I appreciated it immensely. I really like the detail that Felicity encouraged the animal’s friendship with bits of beef given under the table.

If you want a cozy mystery that is equal parts sleuthing and serious chocolate, you need to read Out of Temper.

Goes well with: extra sharp cheddar cheese, a glass of red wine, and a chocolate “salami” from Dude, Sweet Chocolate in Dallas, TX.

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Signed copy of Out of Temper +

a chocolate bar from French Broad Chocolates!
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Review and Giveaway: The Sparrows of Montenegro, by BJ Mayo

BNR Sparrows of Montenegro

About the book, The Sparrows of Montenegro

  • Categories: Western / Historical Fiction / Texas
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
  • Date of Publication: February 8, 2022
  • Number of Pages: 312 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Sparrows of MontenegroTree “Bigfoot” Smith and Cedar Jones first meet on the day they join the US Cavalry’s Fourth Cavalry Regiment based out of the Historic Fort Concho in what is now San Angelo, Texas, in 1870.

Their journey takes them into the heart of the dangerous Llano Estacado region known as the Comancheria. The area is ruthlessly defended by a band of Quahadi Comanche and their stoic leader, Lonely Horse. The Troop encounters a large group of Comanches and the gun-running Comancheros at Mushaway Mountain, close to Gail, Texas. A quick battle ensues that leaves eight men dead.

Post Cavalry life finds Tree Smith and Cedar Jones as cowhand and cook on the large Rolling J cattle ranch in South Texas bordering the Rio Grande River. The ranch employs two Vaqueros from the village of Montenegro in Mexico, just across the river, whom Tree befriends.

The quiet life on the Rolling J ranch is brought to an abrupt halt when a local sheriff warns that a band led by the cold-blooded, sadistic killer known as Gato Montes has been preying on the ranches along the Rio Grande. After the sheriff is nearly killed by these men, Tree is tasked with tracking them down, only this time, he is traveling alone and the dangers are greatly multiplied. His epic journey takes him back into the Llano Estacado where he is captured by Lonely Horse and taken to Mushaway Mountain where the Comanche carry out their own form of frontier justice.

Tree’s return journey puts him on the same path as Marco, a Mexican goat herder, who rides with him to the Mexican Village of Montenegro, where Tree meets Julia, who changes his life forever after he becomes involved in and bears witness to the wonderful celebration of Dia de los Muertos.

Praise for this book:

“I could not put this one down. Mayo has masterfully written a character-driven page-turner, a compelling tale for the reader who seeks something more than the stereotypical western novel.” Ron Schwab, author of Goldsmith and the Law Wranglers series

“This mild-mannered west Texas rancher has woven a border tapestry using yarns made of unimaginable horror and sweet innocence.” Tumbleweed Smith, author of Under the Chinaberry Tree

“A thoroughly enjoyable read—a cowboy’s trail you’ll want to follow, with a memorable cast of characters, renegades, soldiers, lawmen, and simple folks, and a hero that you’ll want more of.” John J. Jacobson, author of All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone

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About the author, BJ Mayo

Author Pic BJ Mayo

 

BJ Mayo was born in an oil field town in Texas. His career in the energy industry took him to various points in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Bangladesh, Australia, and Angola, West Africa.

He and his wife were high school sweethearts and have been married for forty-six years. They live on a working farm near San Angelo, Texas.

Connect with BJ

WEBSITE  ◆  FACEBOOK  ◆  TWITTER INSTAGRAM ◆  SKYHORSE PUBLISHING


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellBJ Mayo’s latest novel, The Sparrows of Montenegro is a grand epic story of friendship, loyalty, war, peace, and culture. Set in and around what is now San Angelo, Texas (a place I’ve only heard of because a dear friend is from a town near there), Mayo has made the landscape as much a character as the human beings. He really makes you feel the dust and heat, or smell the goats.

But it’s the human story that is truly compelling in this book, and while we’re introduced to two strong characters at the beginning, Tree, a bear of a man who despises injustice, and Cedar, a sharpshooter who can also cook. The two become fast friends, but it’s really Tree’s story, for it’s his life that we see after they leave the Cavalry, and it’s he who tangles with a local man named Pablo who goes by the alias Gato Montes – which can be translated as “cat of the mountain” or “mountain lion.”  (The former is more literal, I think the latter has more panache.)

Gato Montes is bitter and twisted, and his behavior involves levels of violence toward humans and animals that sensitive readers may want to avoid, but it should be noted that the grittier scenes are never gratuitous or written for shock value, and absolutely move the story forward.

While this novel isn’t a romance in the conventional sense, there is a bit of a romantic interlude once Tree meets Julia. More than a love story, though, The Sparrows of Montenegro is a satisfying saga of blood, land, honor, friendship, and trusting oneself to do the right thing.

Goes well with: birria de res and a bottle of Indio beer.


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Autographed copies of The Sparrows of Montenegro.
(US only. Ends 2/19/22).

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Review: Shapeshifting by Michelle Ross

ShapeshiftingAbout the book: Shapeshifting: Stories

  • Publisher: Stillhouse Press
  • Paperback: 232 pages

The fourteen spellbinding stories in Michelle Ross’s second collection invite readers into the shadows of social-media perfectionism and the relentless cult of motherhood. A recovering alcoholic navigates the social landscape of a toddler playdate; a mother of two camps out in a van to secure her son’s spot at a prestigious kindergarten; a young girl forces her friends to play an elaborate, unwinnable game. With unflinching honesty and vivid, lyric prose, Ross explores the familial ties that bind us together-or, sometimes, tear us apart.

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About the author, Michelle Ross

Michelle Ross is the author of three story collections, There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You, winner of the 2016 Moon City Press Short Fiction Award and Finalist for the 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award for Short Stories, Shapeshifting, winner of the Stillhouse Press Short Story Award (forthcoming in 2021), and They Kept Running, winner of the 2021 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction (forthcoming in Spring 2022). Her fiction has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Colorado Review, The Common, Epiphany, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, TriQuarterly, Witness, and other venues. Her fiction has been selected for Best Microfiction, Best Small Fictions, and the Wigleaf Top 50, among other anthologies. She is fiction editor of Atticus Review and was a consulting editor for the 2018 Best Small Fictions anthology. A native of Texas, she received her B.A. from Emory University and her M.F.A and M.A. from Indiana University. She currently lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband and son.

Connect with Michelle:

Website


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellMichelle Ross’s collection of short stories, Shapeshifting, is a haunting, provocative anthology focusing on motherhood and womanhood, and how the two are intertwined.

These  fourteen stories are not shiny, fluffy, stories about how becoming a mother is the be-all and end-all of life. Rather they are  often hilarious, sometimes dark glimpses at the struggle to retain oneself within the context of being responsible for another human being.

Rather than the retouched moms and tots we see on Instagram, these stories show a mother sleeping in a van with her still-nursing baby to get her other child into the right school, while her husband can’t even feed said child dinner because he’s busy running parenting support groups and offering advice. Ross also shows us a mother separated from her adult daughter and the bitter, skewed images each has of the other, and the collection goes on – different mothers, different stages of motherhood, all flawed and dimensional and real. All individual women.

What I loved about Ross’s writing, in addition to her brutal clarity, was the detail she put in each story – the way mothers will extend their arms to keep their children safe in their plane or car seats, even though they have seat belts – something my own mother still does when we’re in a car together even though I’m now fifty-one.

Motherhood is often called a transformative experience. Ross’s stories look at the truth of those transformations, these shifting shapes of our bodies, our minds, and our souls and reveal the parts we think, but don’t share. They are compelling mirrors of the lives of women.

Goes well with: hot coffee, a cinnamon pastry, and twenty minutes of solitude.


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