Cover Reveal & Pre-Order Giveaway: Deadly Business, by Anita Dickason

BNR Deadly Business Blitz

 

About the book, Deadly Business

  • Anticipated Publication Date: July 3, 2021
  • Pages: 324 pages
  • Categories: Suspense | Thriller | Crime Thriller

Cover 3D 2 Deadly Business-a-5-3-21A Texas Multi-Billion Dollar Lure!

Following a tactical raid at an Oklahoma farm, a phone call sends U.S. Deputy Marshal Piper McKay rushing back to the East Texas cattle ranch where she grew up.

Her grandmother, Jennie Layton, is near death from a crushed skull. When local authorities claim the cause of the injury was an accident, Piper isn’t convinced.

Who wants Jennie dead and why? Is the reason connected to a dubious contract Piper finds in Jennie’s desk?

Piper realizes her grandmother isn’t the only one in danger when she barely escapes a deadly attack. Thrust into the middle of a high-stakes, high-risk shell game, Piper’s become the target.

The case takes a bizarre turn when Piper unknowingly crosses paths with a Special Ranger. If he can’t derail her investigation, it could cost him his life.

With millions of dollars on the line, nothing will stop a ring of cold-blooded killers, including the murders of a U.S. Marshal and a Special Ranger.

Pre-Order this book:

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About the author, Anita Dickason

Anita Dickason

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Award-winning author Anita Dickason is a twenty-two veteran of the Dallas Police Department. She served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics detective, advanced accident investigator, tactical officer and first female sniper on the Dallas SWAT team.

Anita writes about what she knows, cops and crime. Her police background provides an unending source of inspiration for her plots and characters. Many incidents and characters portrayed in her books are based on personal experience. For her, the characters are the fun part of writing as she never knows where they will take her. There is always something out of the ordinary in her stories.

In Anita’s debut novel, Sentinels of the Night, she created an elite FBI Unit, the Trackers. Since then, she has added three more Tracker crime thrillers, Going Gone!, A u 7 9, and Operation Navajo. The novels are not a series and can be read in any order.

As a Texas author, many of Anita’s books are based in Texas, or there is a link to Texas. When she stepped outside of the Tracker novels and wrote, Not Dead, she selected Meridian, a small community in central Texas for the location.

Connect with Anita:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | LinkedIn | VimeoAmazon Author PageGoodreads Author Page


Giveaway on Anita Dickason’s Website!

Pre-order Deadly Business, and you could win one of three prize packages (value $40 each) containing a tote bag, mousepad, coaster, pen, & bookmarks!

Visit www.anitadickason.com/ for details!

(US only. Contest ends at midnight, CDT, July 2, 2021.)

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Review & Giveaway: A Witch’s Brew, by Michael Scott Clifton

BNR Witch's Brew

 

About the book, A Witch’s Brew

  • Series: Conquest of the Veil
  • Publisher: Book Liftoff, April 14, 2021
  • Categories: Sword & Sorcery / Magical Realism / Fantasy / Paranormal
  • Giveaway: Scroll for entry information

Cover Hi Res A Witch's BrewIntent on defeating the Dark Queen and destroying the Veil, Prince Tal and Alexandria arrive at Markingham to discover a city on the verge of collapse, its people starving, and children vanishing without a trace. Hopes of launching attacks from the city against the Dark Queen evaporate. To make matters worse, the tiny breach in the Veil allows only a trickle of soldiers and supplies to pass through.

Before the city’s defenses can be restored, the Baleful, a vast army composed of melded humans and animals led by a giant centaur, sweeps across the land like locusts, leaving nothing behind.

In the midst of turmoil and conflict, the love between Tal and Alex reaches white-hot intensity. But the leader of a ragtag militia group wants Tal for herself and will do anything to get him…even strike a bargain with a child-killing witch for a potion to make her irresistible.

But every witch’s brew comes with a price.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (Paperback) | Amazon (Kindle) | Goodreads


About the author, Michael Scott Clifton

Author CliftonMulti Award-Winning Author Michael Scott Clifton, a longtime public educator, currently lives in Mount Pleasant, Texas with his wife, Melanie. An avid gardener, reader, and movie junkie, his books contain facets of all the genres he enjoys—action, adventure, magic, fantasy, and romance. His fantasy novels, The Janus Witch, The Open Portal (Book I in the Conquest of the Veil series), and Escape from Wheel (Book II), all received 5-Star reviews from the prestigious Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews. The Open Portal has also been honored with a Feathered Quill Book Finalist Award. In addition, Edison Jones and the Anti-Grav Elevator earned a 2021 Feathered Quill Book Award Bronze Medal in the Teen Readers category. Two of his short stories have won Gold Medals, with Edges of Gray winning the Texas Authors Contest, and The End Game, winning the Northeast Texas Writer’s Organization Contest. Professional credits include articles published in the Texas Study of Secondary EducationMagazine.

Connect with Michael:

Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page | Bookbub

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My Thoughts:

I jumped into A Witch’s Brew the third installment in Michael Scott Clifton’s Conquest of the Veil series having only read brief synopses of the previous two novels, but so good is the author’s storytelling that I never felt out of the loop, or like I’d missed a ton of crucial backstory. More importantly, I felt completely comfortable in the world Clifton built, which felt like a real place.

While I loved the story over all I really appreciated that both the protagonist, Alex, and the antagonist (I felt too much sympathy for her to label her an outright villain), Maggie, were both strong, self-possessed women. I was rooting for Alex, of course, but both characters were well drawn, dynamic women, and leapt off the page and into my imagination, where they’ll linger for a while.

I also loved Clifton’s use of language. So many fantasy authors conflate fantasy with medieval, and use antiquated language where it really isn’t necessary. Clifton understands the difference, and I enjoyed reading this genre-blending story of witches and potions, sword fights and romance, all the more because the author used contemporary language.

While I am a new reader of this series, I’m not entirely new to Clifton’s work, having reviewed his novel The Janus Witch in 2018. Then, I was impressed by his deftness at handling time travel. With A Witch’s Brew, I was struck by his prowess with both parallel world structures, and with writing romance that is poignant but never sappy. I’m also excited to know that there are more stories planned in this world. I’m completely hooked and I think anyone who is a fan of series like Shadow and Bone will be, as well.

This novel is a fantastic (no pun intended), immersive story that has something for everyone, wrapped in a perfect plot and enhanced by compelling characters and a truly original take on magic and its uses.

Goes well with: A grilled grouper sandwich, sweet potato fries,  and a craft-brewed beer, nothing too hoppy.


Giveaway

THREE WINNERS!

Grand Prize:
Signed Copies of all three books in the Conquest of the Veil series
+ $15 Amazon Gift Card:
2nd & 3rd Winners: eBooks of A Witch’s Brew.
Ends midnight, CDT, May 28, 2021.

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Review & Giveaway: The Paris Betrayal, by James R. Hannibal

BNR The Paris Betrayal

About the book, The Paris Betrayal

  • Publisher: Revell
  • Pub Date: May 4th, 2021
  • Pages: 352 pages
  • Categories: Fiction / Christian / Suspense
  • Scroll for Giveaway!

Cover hi res Paris BetrayalAfter a rough mission in Rome involving the discovery of a devastating bioweapon, Company spy Ben Calix returns to Paris to find his perfectly ordered world has collapsed. A sniper attack. An ambush. A call for help that brings French SWAT forces down on his head. Ben is out. This is a severance–reserved for incompetents and traitors.

Searching for answers and anticipating a coming attack, Ben and a woman swept up in his misfortunes must travel across Europe to find the sniper who tried to kill him, the medic who saved his life, the schoolmaster who trained him, and an upstart hacker from his former team. More than that, Ben must come to grips with his own insignificance as the Company’s plan to stop Leviathan from unleashing the bioweapon at any cost moves forward without him–and he struggles against the infection that is swiftly claiming territory within his own body.

Award-winning author James R. Hannibal ratchets up the tension on every page of this suspenseful new thriller.

Praise for this book:

“A masterful thriller is created by a masterful writer, and James R. Hannibal is at the top of my list. I devoured every page with the lights on!”DiAnn Mills, DiAnnMills.com, author of Airborne

“James Hannibal once again displays his dazzling prose and ability to keep even the more experienced readers guessing. In The Paris Betrayal, Hannibal sets his hook deep and early, then drags you through a riveting, edge-of-your-seat story. Another gripping, high-octane book from one of the best thriller writers in the business.” — Simon Gervais, former RCMP counterterrorism officer and bestselling author of Hunt Them Down 

“Riveting and action-packed! The Paris Betrayal is everything you want in a thriller–suspense, intrigue, and white-knuckle action. Hannibal has a knack for keeping you guessing in a plot that moves at a breakneck speed. This is one you don’t want to miss!” —Ronie Kendig, bestselling author of The Tox Files

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Christianbooks.com Barnes and Noble | Revell Affiliates | Goodreads


About the author, James R. Hannibal

Author Pic HannibalJames R. Hannibal is no stranger to secrets and adventure. This former stealth pilot from Houston, Texas, has been shot at, locked up with surface-to-air missiles, and chased down a winding German road by an armed terrorist. He is a two-time Silver Falchion Award winner for his children’s mysteries, a former Thriller Award nominee, and a 2020 Selah and Carol Award finalist for The Gryphon Heist–the opener for the CIA series that now includes Chasing the White Lion. James is a rare multisense synesthete, meaning all of his senses intersect. He sees and feels sounds and smells, and he hears flashes of light. If he tells you the chocolate cake you offered smells blue and sticky, take it as a compliment.

Connect with James

Website | Instagram | Facebook | BookBub | Goodreads Author Page | Amazon Author Page


My Thoughts

Melissa A. Bartell Opening in Rome and then moving to Paris, this novel is a feast of action-adventure, spy games, murder, intrigue, and chess-like strategy and a hint (but only a hint) of romance on a global table, and its protagonist, Ben Calix is the main dish, competent, likeable, and extremely dedicated to a job that doesn’t always offer positive rewards.

The initial sequence really sets the tone and pace for this novel, and I found myself breathless when the first chapter finally wound down. The rest of the book is slightly slower, but the fast pace works for this kind of story, and even the chapters are relatively short. Author Hannibal excels at giving the reader exactly what they need to know at any given moment. You never feel like you’re missing something, but there’s also very little filler.

I really appreciated the author’s personal experience and how he used it in addition to careful research to provide the level of detail in this novel. Every weapon was specified, for example. No one ever pointed a gun, they used a SIG or a Glock. That specificity really lets the reader immerse in this story. After finishing it, I had to remind myself that I wasn’t a spy and no one was targeting me! Then again, “…the most dangerous enemy is the one you don’t see coming.”

While Ben was the most completely drawn character in this story – and he seems to be as wonderful as he is ruthless – after all, he even saves a dog and continues working for the greater good even after the time in Rome finds him severed from The Company – Giselle was also vividly painted, and I enjoyed seeing a female agent in the mix.  Of course it’s the bad guys who make a thriller, work as much as the good and they did not disappoint. The mooks were all menacing, and the bigger players were  – as bad guys should be – convinced their point of view was the right one.

Overall, this novel is a gripping story with enough action, suspense, and spy tricks to please even the most ardent reader of espionage tales.

Goes well with steak au poivre and a nice merlot.


Giveaway

ONE WINNER receives a print copy of The Paris Betrayal,
Mini Pen Camera, & $10 Starbucks Gift Card!

US Only. Ends midnight, CDT, May 14, 2021.

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Review: Lemons in the Garden of Love, by Ames Sheridan

About the book Lemons in the Garden of Love

Lemons in the Garden of Love

  • Publisher : She Writes Press (May 11, 2021)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 248 pages

It’s 1977 and Cassie Lyman, a graduate student in women’s history, is struggling to find a topic for her doctoral dissertation. When she discovers a trove of drawings, suffrage cartoons, letters, and diaries at Smith College belonging to Kate Easton, founder of the Birth Control League of Massachusetts in 1916, she believes she has located her subject.

Digging deeper into Kate’s life, Cassie learns that she and Kate are related―closely. Driven to understand why her family has never spoken of Kate, Cassie travels to Cape Ann to attend her sister’s shotgun wedding, where she questions her female relatives about Kate―only to find herself soon afterward in the same challenging situation Kate faced.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | IndieBound | She Writes Press | Goodreads


About the author, Ames Sheldon

Ames SheldonAMES SHELDON: was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and grew up in Wayzata, Minnesota. After graduating from Northrop Collegiate School, she attended Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in English. After graduating, she worked in the legal department of a chemical company, as a reporter at two newspapers, as office manager of a start-up auto salvage business, and eventually as a grant writer and development officer for a variety of nonprofit organizations, ranging from the Sierra Club in San Francisco to the Minnesota Historical Society and the Minneapolis Public Library. She has an M.A. in American Studies and was lead author and associate editor of the groundbreaking Women’s History Sources: A Guide to Archives and Manuscript Collections in the United States (R.R. Bowker, 1979). In the process of working on this monumental reference book, Ames discovered her love of women’s history and of using primary sources for research. Her debut novel, Eleanor’s Wars, won the 2016 Benjamin Franklin Gold Award for Best New Voice: Fiction. Her second novel, Don’t Put the Boats Away, was published on August 27, 2019, by She Writes Press. Her third novel, Lemons in the Garden of Love, will be published in 2021.

Connect with Ames:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

As a woman who was given my mother’s vintage original copy (then little more than a pamphlet) of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and as a woman who has fought for reproductive rights my entire  adult life (often with my mother beside me) I was eager to read Lemons in the Garden of Love when it was offered to me for review. This, I thought, was a story I could really relate to.

The parallel stories of Cassie, a grad student in the 1970s, and her aunt Kate, several decades earlier, are compelling reading. Both women were intellectually curious, passionate, and trapped in marriages to cold men. Both women found themselves facing a similar challenge. And both women had to deal with family members who were slaves to conservative views of gender roles, at best, and generally dreadful, at worst.

What I loved about this novel, was that you could tell that author Ames Sheldon had a personal investment in the story. Indeed, she is so committed to reproductive rights and  women’s healthcare that fifty percent of the proceeds from this novel are being donated to Planned Parenthood. That’s an amazing legacy, but so is this novel, which captures the very different experiences of women in the earlier and more recent twentieth century. As well, I really appreciated the technical knowledge that Sheldon included in her story, like how to make your own diaphragm from liquid latex and a darning ring, as many of our great-grandmothers had to do.

Beyond the technical detail, however, I liked how distinctive the two main characters’ voices were. Cassie is very much a contemporary woman, even if the seventies are considered “historical” now (as someone born in 1970 I have difficulty with that), and Kate’s words in her journals are stiffer, and more formal, really cementing her in the early twentieth century.

Overall, I feel Lemons in the Garden of Love is an important read. We must know where we came from as we face an increasingly autocratic future. We must take care not to repeat the worst parts of our history, and honor the best. Most importantly, we must continue to tell our stories, our mothers’ and grandmothers’ stories, and those of our sisters in spirit.

Goes well with grilled chicken, asparagus, and sauteed mushrooms.

 

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.


Giveaway

TWO WINNERS each receive a signed copy of Infinity’s Gateway!

(US only. Ends midnight, CDT, May 8, 2021)

 

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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.


Giveaway

FIVE WINNERS:
2 Winners: Autographed Paperbacks;
3 Winners: eBook copies

(US only. Ends midnight, CDT, 4/16/2021)

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4/6/21 Book Trailer Chapter Break Book Blog
4/6/21 Review That’s What She’s Reading
4/6/21 BONUS Promo LSBBT Blog
4/7/21 Review Momma on the Rocks
4/7/21 BONUS Promo Hall Ways Blog
4/8/21 Review StoreyBook Reviews
4/8/21 Notable Quotable The Page Unbound
4/9/21 Review The Clueless Gent
4/10/21 Review Jennie Reads
4/11/21 Author Interview Texas Book Lover
4/12/21 Review Bibliotica
4/13/21 Review It’s Not All Gravy
4/13/21 Playlist All the Ups and Downs
4/14/21 Review Reading by Moonlight
4/14/21 Deleted Scene Book Fidelity
4/15/21 Review Rainy Days with Amanda
4/15/21 Review Forgotten Winds

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Spotlight: Stiff Lizard, by Lisa Haneberg

Stiff Lizard Book Blitz

 

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:

Amazon | Bookshop | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

Spy Shop Mysteries


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:

Amazon | Brazos Bookstore | Winedale Publishing | Goodreads


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.


Giveaway

TWO WINNERS each receive a signed bookplate

+ $20 Brazos Bookstore Gift Card to buy the book

 (US only. Ends midnight, CDT, 4/2/2021)

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Click to visit the Lone Star Literary Life Tour Page for direct links to each post on this tour, updated daily, or visit the blogs directly:

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3/23/21 Excerpt Texas Book Lover
3/24/21 Review Book Bustle
3/24/21 BONUS Promo LSBBT Blog
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
3/31/21 Guest Post Librariel Book Adventures
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4/1/21 Review Forgotten Winds

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