Thursday, May 30, 2019

0 Sometimes the most reliable person in your life is YOU: Week 6 of @Sync's summer #Audiobook program

Available for a Limited Time
Remember — grab these titles before they are replaced by a new pairing on 6/6/2019! While the title availability is time-limited, your listening time is not. Once you have downloaded the MP3 files, the audiobook is yours to keep and listen to at your leisure. 

by Kerry Kletter | Read by Jorjeana Marie
Published by Penguin Random House Audio/Listening Library

Cassie O'Malley has spent the past two and a half years in a mental institution—dumped there by her mother, against her will. Now, at 18, Cassie emancipates herself, determined to start over. She attends college, forms new friendships, and even attempts to start fresh with her mother. But before long, their unhealthy relationship threatens to pull Cassie under once again. As Cassie struggles to reclaim her life, childhood memories persist and confuse, and Cassie must consider whose version of history is real, and more important, whose life she must save.

by Wendelin Van Draanen | Read by Alex McKenna
Published by Penguin Random House Audio/Listening Library

From the award-winning author of The Running Dream and Flipped comes a remarkable portrait of a girl who has hit rock bottom but begins a climb back to herself at a wilderness survival camp.

Monday, May 27, 2019

0 Review: The Royal Secret

The Royal Secret (The Love Letter in the UK)
by Lucinda Riley
Hardcover, 528 pages
Expected publication: May 21st 2019 by Atria Books


In this suspenseful and heart-pounding novel from New York Times bestselling author Lucinda Riley, an ambitious young journalist unravels a dangerous mystery that threatens to devastate the British monarchy. 

My thanks to Atria and NetGalley for providing me with a review copy of the book. It in no way influenced my opinion. 

My Thoughts

The Royal Secret (also called The Love Letter in the UK) by Lucinda Riley has had an interesting road to publication. In an Author's Note at the beginning of the book, Riley explains that she began writing The Royal Secret in 1998 under the title Seeing Double. 2000 was not the year for this book. With the "popularity of the monarchy being at an all-time low and the Queen Mother's centenary year," this book didn't see the light of day. A part of me wonders if it was because this book resembled some kind of truth that people in high places wanted to keep under wraps. Although, Riley does point out that this is a pure work of fiction with no similarity between the Queen and her family. Thankfully, 2019 is the year for this book, and as far as I'm aware, the road to publishing has been smoother this time around.

The Royal Secret begins at a slow but steady pace. Joanna Haslam is a reporter trying to catch her big break in the news business. At the last minute she is assigned to cover the legendary actor, Sir James Harrison's, funeral. At the funeral, she sits beside an elderly lady who has some kind of medical fit during the funeral. Joanna helps her home. A few weeks later she receives a mysterious letter in the mail from the little old lady, and from that point on, Joanna's life changes forever. She might have the scoop of a lifetime if she finds out the truth before it's too late.

At over 500 pages, this book seemed a little too long at times. Could it have been because I was impatient for all the pieces to fall into place? Maybe so. For the most part the plot moved along well. Riley had me guessing as to what was really happening. Part historical fiction/part political thriller, The Royal Secret is a book that is hard to put down. And the ending was so good. I didn't see it coming. Lots of twists and turns filled with adventure and romance. If you're looking for a beach read this summer, I highly recommend this book!

Twitter: @lucindariley


Thursday, May 23, 2019

0 The 20th Century's Most Famous Wall: Week 5 of Sync's Free Summer #Audiobook Program

Available for a Limited Time

Remember — grab these titles before they are replaced by a new pairing on 5/30/2019! While the title availability is time-limited, your listening time is not. Once you have downloaded the MP3 files, the audiobook is yours to keep and listen to at your leisure. 

by Jennifer A. Nielsen | Read by Kate Simses
Published by Scholastic Audiobooks

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, yet she can't help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city. But one day on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Gerta concludes that her father wants her and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?

by Romesh Ratnesar | Read by Wes Bleed
Published by Oasis Audio

On June 12, 1987, Ronald Reagan addressed a crowd of 20,000 people in West Berlin in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. The words he delivered that afternoon would become among the most famous in presidential history. “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate,” Reagan said. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” In this riveting and fast-paced audiobook, Romesh Ratnesar provides an account of how Reagan arrived at his defining moment and what followed from it. The audio is based on interviews with numerous former Reagan administration officials and American and German eyewitnesses to the speech, as well as recently declassified State Department documents and East German records of the president’s trip. Ratnesar provides new details about the origins of Reagan’s speech and the debate within the administration about how to issue the fateful challenge to Gorbachev. Tear Down This Wall re-creates the charged atmosphere surrounding Reagan’s visit to Berlin and explores the speech’s role in bringing about the fall of the Berlin Wall less than two years later. At the heart of the story is the relationship between two giants of the late twentieth century: Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. Departing from the view that Reagan “won” the Cold War, Ratnesar demonstrates that both Reagan and Gorbachev played indispensable roles in bringing about the end of the U.S.-Soviet rivalry. It was the trust that Reagan and Gorbachev built in each other that allowed them finally to overcome the suspicions that had held their predecessors back. Calling on Gorbachev to tear down the wall, in Reagan’s mind, might actually encourage him to do it. Reagan’s speech in Berlin was more than a good sound bite. Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we can now see the speech as the event that marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

0 Review: The Jane Austen Diet

The Jane Austen Diet: Austen's Secrets to Food, Health, and Incandescent Happiness
by Jane Austen,  Bryan Kozlowski
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 19th 2019 by Turner

My thanks to NetGalley and Turner Publishing for granting me a review copy of this book. I have not been compensated for this review. All opinions are my own.


With a multimillion-fan base, Austen is already a "lifestyle" celebrity: imitating her ideas on love and romance lie at the heart of her fabulous fame. In his newest literary romp author, Bryan Kozlowski offers a new twist on the Austen way of romancing life. The Jane Austen Diet, is the first retrospective look at the healthiest characters in classic literature and what they can teach us today.

My Thoughts

There are two things I want to get out of the way first. 1. Jane Austen did not co-author this book. While the author uses many excerpts and examples from her work, unless she rose from the dead, it is quite impossible for her to contribute to this book. 2. While I enjoyed reading this book, there is nothing groundbreaking as far as diets are concerned.

So what did Jane Austen know about dieting? Did she have secrets to staying healthy? Bryan Kozlowski gives readers an insight to the eating habits during the late 1700's/early 1800's. Did Austen's characters reflect her personal views on food and activity? Did she--gasp--eat carbs? Kozlowski uses excerpts from Austen's novels to make his argument. He covers everything from what they ate and when to happiness and nature.

I was fascinated by the research that went into this book. It helped me understand Austen and her books all the better. As I stated before, I didn't find anything groundbreaking in this book, but Austen's way of dieting is not a bad thing either. Who wouldn't want to take walks like Elizabeth  Bennett? No cardio workouts here. Kozlowski also includes some Regency recipes, which I'm dying to try.

The Jane Austen Diet: Austen's Secrets to Food, Health, and Incandescent Happiness is not a bad way to go as far as diets are concerned. After all, who wouldn't want to live the Austen way?

Thursday, May 16, 2019

0 Natural or man-made disasters can change what "home" means forever: Sync Week 4

Available for a Limited Time
Remember — grab these titles before they are replaced by a new pairing on 5/23/2019! While the title availability is time-limited, your listening time is not. Once you have downloaded the MP3 files, the audiobook is yours to keep and listen to at your leisure. 

by Leigh Fondakowski | Read by Elisa Bocanegra, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Nicholas Hormann, Travis Johns, Jane Kaczmarek, James Morrison, Darren Richardson, Kate Steele, Mark Jude Sullivan
Published by L.A. Theatre Works

In April of 2010, British Petroleum gave orders to speed up production on its colossal drilling rig, the Deepwater Horizon. Despite the objections of many on the rig, safety measures were ignored or overlooked. On April 20th, the Deepwater Horizon exploded. Eleven men paid the ultimate price and countless thousands who call the Gulf Coast home found their lives irrevocably altered. Includes a conversation with Jim Morris, Managing Editor for the Environment and Worker Safety for the Center for Public Integrity. Spill is part of our Relativity Series, presented with major funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, bridging science and the arts in the modern world. Directed by Martin Jarvis. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast recording, starring: Elisa Bocanegra as Arleen Weise, Andrea Fleytas Gilbert Glenn Brown as Obama, Jorey Danos, Christopher Pleasant Nicholas Hormann as Bob Bea, Pat O'Bryan, Gary Bartholemy, Wyman Wheeler Travis Johns as Keith Jones, Steve Bertone, Jonathan Henderson Jane Kaczmarek as Narrator, Lillian Miller James Morrison as Bill Anderson, Randy Ezell, Billy Nungesser Darren Richardson as Tony Hayward, Jimmy Harrell, Gordon Jones, Don Vidrine Kate Steele as Shelley Anderson, Jolene Danos Mark Jude Sullivan as Jason Anderson, Mike Williams Production Manager, Nikki Hyde. Music Supervisor, Ronn Lipkin. Associate Artistic Director, Anna Lyse Erikson. Editor, Julian Nicholson. Recording Engineer, Sound Designer and Mixer, Mark Holden for The Invisible Studios, West Hollywood. Recorded live in performance at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater in May 2018.

by McCall Hoyle | Read by Morgan Fairbanks
Published by Blink

From award-winning author McCall Hoyle comes a new young adult novel, Meet the Sky, a story of love, letting go, and the unstoppable power of nature. It all started with the accident. The one that caused Sophie’s dad to walk out of her life. The one that left Sophie’s older sister, Meredith, barely able to walk at all. With nothing but pain in her past, all Sophie wants is to plan for the future—keep the family business running, get accepted to veterinary school, and protect her mom and sister from another disaster. But when a hurricane forms off the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks and heads right toward their island, Sophie realizes nature is one thing she can’t control. After she gets separated from her family during the evacuation, Sophie finds herself trapped on the island with the last person she’d have chosen—the reckless and wild Finn Sanders, who broke her heart freshman year. As they struggle to find safety, Sophie learns that Finn has suffered his own heartbreak; but instead of playing it safe, Finn’s become the kind of guy who goes surfing in the eye of the hurricane. He may be the perfect person to remind Sophie how to embrace life again, but only if their newfound friendship can survive the storm.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

2 A Murderous Malady by Christine Trent Excerpt and Giveaway

A Murderous Malady by Christine Trent

Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Crooked Lane Books
Hardcover & eBook; 336 Pages
Genre: Historical Mystery

For fans of Charles Todd and Deanna Raybourn comes Christine Trent’s second Florence Nightingale mystery.

Cholera has broken out in London, but Florence Nightingale has bigger problems when people begin dying of a far more intentional cause—murder.

The London summer of 1854 is drawing to a close when a deadly outbreak of cholera grips the city. Florence Nightingale is back on the scene marshaling her nurses to help treat countless suffering patients at Middlesex Hospital as the disease tears through the Soho slums. But beyond the dangers of the disease, something even more evil is seeping through the ailing streets of London.

It begins with an attack on the carriage of Florence’s friend, Elizabeth Herbert, wife to Secretary at War Sidney Herbert. Florence survives, but her coachman does not. Within hours, Sidney’s valet stumbles into the hospital, mutters a few cryptic words about the attack, and promptly dies from cholera. Frantic that an assassin is stalking his wife, Sidney enlists Florence’s help, who accepts but has little to go on save for the valet’s last words and a curious set of dice in his jacket pocket. Soon, the suspects are piling up faster than cholera victims, as there seems to be no end to the number of people who bear a grudge against the Herbert household.

Now, Florence is in a race against time—not only to save the victims of a lethal disease, but to foil a murderer with a disturbingly sinister goal—in A Murderous Malady.


The rain had stopped but the heat had not, leaving the city in a state of oppressive clamminess. The taxi dropped me off at the Belgrave Square cab stand. As I walked down the block toward the Herbert residence, I noticed there was a quality, highly polished landau sitting about a block beyond Herbert House. It stood out to me because the carriage’s coachman was sitting on the driver’s box, as if waiting for his passengers, yet there was a glamorous woman sitting in the carriage, patiently watching the house.
The carriage was neither pulled completely off to one side of Grosvenor Crescent nor attempting to pull into traffic.
I found myself slowing my own pace. Was I mistaken to think that the woman was observing my friends’ home?
It was then that the woman raised a pair of opera glasses to her eyes, pointing them directly at an upper window of the Herbert home.
I was outraged that someone thought she could spy on the secretary at war in such a brazen manner. I picked up my walking pace, intent on confronting the woman, especially when I considered that this might be the infamous Caroline Norton.
I neared the landau, not bothering to hide or be discreet, for I wished to catch this spy off guard. “Pardon me,” I said loudly, feeling disadvantaged for being so far below her.
The woman yelped in surprised and, keeping the glasses raised to her face, lowered them briefly to peer down at me.
“Sorry, ma’am,” her coachman said to his passenger, having also just taken note of me. “I didn’t see her.” Now he addressed me. “Madam, if I could ask you to move—”
“Who are you?” I demanded angrily, ignoring the man and not taking my eyes from the woman’s face, which was once again masked by the pearl-handled glasses.
With long, tapered fingers, she slowly lowered the glasses to her lap. An unusual, tight-fitting gold bracelet adorned her wrist.
I now stared up at a woman who was quite beautiful, with flawless skin, dewy sapphire eyes, and an erect, almost noble, bearing. Her dark hair was carefully sculpted beneath a large, feather-trimmed, sky-blue hat, which showcased her luminous eyes. She seemed neither flustered nor dismayed by the heat.
Yet, on closer inspection, I could see that despite her exquisiteness, she was clearly older than me and had pale shadows beneath those eyes. She reminded me of a rose discovered on a vine late in the season: so very beautiful compared to the withered-up blooms around it, but a little desiccated when plucked and viewed in one’s palm.
The woman blinked twice languidly. “I believe the appropriate question is who you are, madam,” she said, without the least hint of offense at my presence.
“I am Florence Nightingale, a friend of the Herberts. You appear to be studying their home.”
She smiled, those rosebud lips parting to show perfectly even white teeth. “You are mistaken. I am not studying their home, only their occupants. I don’t recall Sidney mentioning you.”
“But I have heard of you,” I said flatly. “I presume you are Caroline Norton.”
She tilted her head to one side. Naturally, she had a swanlike neck with not even a freckle interrupting its graceful line. “Does he speak of me?” Despite her languorous tone, I sensed an eagerness to her question.
“Only in a manner that makes me concerned for his good health and happiness. What do you wish to achieve, Mrs. Norton, perched out here like a peregrine falcon, waiting for your unsuspecting prey?”
Caroline was quiet for several moments, but even from the ground looking up, I could see her mind whirling behind her gaze. “It is impossible for me to wait, Miss Nightingale,” she said cryptically.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

About the Author

Christine Trent is the author of the Florence Nightingale Mysteries, the Lady of Ashes historical mystery series, about a Victorian-era undertaker, and three other historical novels. Christine’s novels have been translated into Turkish, Polish, and Czech. She writes from her two-story home library, where she lives with her husband, four precocious cats, a large doll collection, entirely too many fountain pens, and over 4,000 catalogued books.

Learn more about Christine at You can also follow her on Facebook and Goodreads.


Thanks to the author, we have a signed hardcover to give away to a lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment below and include your email address or an alternate way to reach out if you win. 

Giveaway is open to US addresses only. Giveaway ends on May 21. 

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 6
Interview at Let Them Read Books
Review & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, May 7
Review at Peppermint Ph.D.

Wednesday, May 8
Review at Proverbial Reads
Excerpt & Giveaway at Old Timey Books

Thursday, May 9
Guest Post at Short Book and Scribes

Friday, May 10
Review at Broken Teepee
Review & Excerpt at Clarissa Reads it All

Saturday, May 11

Sunday, May 12
Review at A Bookish Affair

Monday, May 13
Feature & Giveaway at Queen of Random

Tuesday, May 14
Excerpt & Giveaway at To Read, Or Not to Read

Wednesday, May 15
Excerpt & Giveaway at Kimber Li's Blog

Thursday, May 16

Friday, May 17
Review at The Lit Bitch

Saturday, May 18

Sunday, May 19
Review, Q&A, and Giveaway at Maiden of the Pages

Monday, May 20
Giveaway at Coffee and Ink
Review & Excerpt at Jathan & Heather

Friday, May 10, 2019

0 What do you do when ancient myths invade the here and now? Week 3 of Sync's summer of free audiobooks for teens

Available for a Limited Time
Remember — grab these titles before they are replaced by a new pairing on 5/16/2019! While the title availability is time-limited, your listening time is not. Once you have downloaded the MP3 files, the audiobook is yours to keep and listen to at your leisure. 

Downloading Tips
Get the OverDrive App to access free SYNC audiobooks. The app is available for every major desktop and mobile platform.

by F.C. Yee | Read by Nancy Wu
Published by Recorded Books

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie's every waking thought. But when she discovers she's a celestial spirit who's powerful enough to bash through the gates of heaven with her fists, her perfectionist existence is shattered. Enter Quentin, a transfer student from China whose tone-deaf assertiveness beguiles Genie to the brink of madness. Quentin nurtures Genie's outrageous transformation-sometimes gently, sometimes aggressively-as her sleepy suburb in the Bay Area comes under siege from hell-spawn. This epic YA debut draws from Chinese folklore, features a larger-than-life heroine, and perfectly balances the realities of Genie's grounded high school life with the absurd supernatural world she finds herself commanding.

by Julie Kagawa | Read by Joy Osmanski, Brian Nishii, Emily Woo Zeller
Published by HarperAudio

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos. Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

2 The Strongman and the Mermaid by Kathleen Shoop Excerpt and Giveaway #TheStrongmanandtheMermaid #KathleenShoop #HFVBTBlogTours

The Strongman and the Mermaid by Kathleen Shoop

Publication Date: February 28, 2019
eBook & Paperback; 573 Pages
Series: The Donora Story Collection (Book 2)
Genre: Historical Fiction/Saga

Myscowa, Poland—1910
Once upon a time in tiny, rural Myscowa, Lukasz Musial competes in feats of strength against his lifelong nemesis to win passage to America. He leaves behind grinding poverty and despair, to seek the clear blue skies, and better life he sees on a postcard. Settled in Donora’s Polish community, Lukasz secures a coveted job in the wire mill, and is matched to marry Donora’s very own Polish princess. Life is set on course. The American Dream is nearly his.

Donora, Pennsylvania—1910
Mary Lancos is no princess. A tall, athletic girl who loves the water, she spends her days keeping house for families in town, digging coal out of a backyard seam and rowing her father across the Monongahela River for work. Mary is dependable, tenacious, and always ready to help when someone needs her. She dreams of a gas-heated home, a bedroom for each of her future children, and good meals on the table each night. To help make that happen Mary attends local dances, waiting for the few men who are taller than her to ask her to dance, hoping one of them is right for her.

An unexpected Christmas Eve visitor brings bad luck, and Lukasz’s world crumbles. Meanwhile, tension grows at the Lancos home when money is short and Mary’s dreams clash with her parents’ old world expectations. Just when Mary and Lukasz are at their lowest, they find themselves under an odd pink moonlit sky and Lukasz rescues Mary from a fall into frigid river water. The attraction between them is sudden and consuming, turning the pair onto an unexpected path. With mounting disapproval from Mary’s parents, and increased pressure on Lukasz, they must decide if love is enough to risk losing everything else that matters.

Available on Amazon


Mary Lancos

January 1910
Donora, Pennsylvania

Even in the smoky morning haze, Mary reached the Irish house on Thompson Avenue in good time. The Dunns weren’t the only Irish family in town, but they were the only Irish family she currently worked for. The home was stately, mysterious, and welcoming. It had three floors and a cellar. The first floor was four expansive square rooms with soaring ceilings, plus a cozy fifth area—the kitchen and a keeping room, which sprawled across the back of the entire house. Mary guessed she could fit her entire house inside two of those rooms if she wedged it right. The exterior of the Dunns’ house had originally been apple red, but the soot and smoke had stained the brick an angry black, leaving only slivers of crimson near the mottled mortar.
The leading citizens of Donora—the store owners, doctors, lawyers, and the higher-ups in the mills—had bought property and built their spacious homes all at once and quick as anything. The miners, like Mary’s father, blast furnace helpers, wire-pullers, and even molders often built their homes one room at a time over the years, creating a ramshackle, haphazard look. But one thing unified every house—every single structure fell victim to the choking air that deposited filth as it swept through town.
Mary entered the Dunns’ through the back door. Clean warmth swallowed her as she hung her coat and hat in the cloakroom. Mary tiptoed into the keeping room, where she mended and ironed. The older Dunn boys spent time there practicing their letters or resting when they were sick or bored with their massive bedroom and playroom upstairs.
Entering the kitchen, Mary inhaled the scent of lemon with her whole being. Oh, it was magnificent. “Lemony” was how girls like Mary described the homes where the town big shots lived. Mary and her friends’ homes smelled like death’s cabbage, week-old meat, and eggs.
Mrs. Dunn hobbled from the direction of the butler’s pantry. She held little Peter on her hip. Strawberry patches spackled her ghostly skin, making Mary gasp.
“Watch Peter, won’t you, Mary, darling?” Mrs. Dunn smoothed her son’s hair back from his tear-drenched face and handed him to Mary.
Like always, Mary playfully pinched his cheek, hugging him close. It had always worked to calm her siblings, and Peter too. His shallow, stuttered gasps smoothed into even breaths.
Mrs. Dunn exhaled deeply and pressed both sides of her expectant belly, her eyes squeezed shut.
Mary stepped closer, fear sweeping through her. “You’re too early.”
Mrs. Dunn straightened and inhaled, nodding. “Six more weeks. Maybe,” she said through her exhale. “Just this headache and now . . . I’m so tired.” She grabbed Mary’s wrist. “I need more help today. Please.”
From all of Matka’s pregnancies, Mary knew what Mrs. Dunn needed. Her mind flew to the dance and her plans to attend it with Samuel. “I can watch Peter while I clean,” Mary said. “But I have chores at home too. And there’s the dance tonight.” Mary covered her mouth, scolding herself. The words were out, and she wanted them back. Mrs. Dunn was very generous, and Mary knew better than to complain. Still, the thought of missing the dance made her eyes sting with tears.
Mrs. Dunn gestured for Mary to follow her, then stalked away, pulling her shirtwaist loose. Mary gasped again. Her boss was far out of sorts, and she wasn’t sure how to get her gathered back up.
“I know,” Mrs. Dunn said. “Your Samuel asked you to go with him.”
“Oh, he’s not mine, but yes . . . the dance.” Oh yes, oh yes. Mary could barely keep from floating every time she thought of him and the dance.
Mrs. Dunn headed back through the butler’s pantry and into the foyer, Mary right on her heels, relieved that the woman had remembered Samuel had asked her, that it was important.
Mrs. Dunn stopped short, her large hazel eyes shifting wildly, conveying desperate pleading, something Mary wasn’t used to seeing in her. In the room above them, four sets of feet clomped, the chandelier crystals clinking and shimmering, reminding Mary the boys had a day off from school due to building repairs. Mrs. Dunn put both hands over her ears, her perfectly coiffed hair sprouting from its pins, loose locks spiraling down her cheeks. Her despair seeped through her skin, changing her from a beauty to an ordinary lunatic Mary might see dragged off to Mayview after a night of carousing.
Mrs. Dunn clawed at her scalp. “This headache.”
She looked as though she might press her ears right through her skull. Mary hated to see someone suffering. “I’ll make tea.”
Mrs. Dunn appeared childish, begging to be saved, wanting to be held as much as her son. “Tea? Oh yes. Please.”
A bang came from the playroom above them. Mrs. Dunn drew a breath and let out a scream. Peter startled, his body stiff. Mary patted his back, bouncing him while cradling his head against her shoulder. She’d heard frustrated screams from many a mother, but not from Mrs. Dunn, not from mothers living in lemony houses.
Mrs. Dunn lifted her skirts and took off for the stairs, gripping the banister, leaning on it as she ascended. “Boys!” she bellowed.
Mary followed, juggling Peter in the crook of one arm.


Kathleen Shoop has bejeweled this book with her magnificent imagination and impeccable writing. The Strongman and the Mermaid by Kathleen Shoop is a romance that goes beyond looks and settles deep into the souls of readers. Every so often, a love story comes that your heart can't let go. One of those love stories, for me, has been Mr. Darcy and Lizzy in Pride and Prejudice. Now Mary and Lukasz in The Strongman and the Mermaid will stay with me for a long time to come. –Ankita Shukla for Readers’ Favorite

The Strongman and the Mermaid by Kathleen Shoop is a gorgeous story, a gripping romance with a strong setting. The plot structure is unusual and it has beautiful twists. I love stories with great characters and a well-developed conflict and I always want to see characters evolve through the conflict. It is something that this author does impeccably well. The narrative is emotionally rich…The writing is cinematic, punctuated by exciting dialogue. The Strongman and the Mermaid will keep you awake through the night. –Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite

I was hooked from the very start...The Strong Man and the Mermaid is skillfully plotted and written in beautiful prose. The reader is pulled into a fairytale-like world with strong and memorable characters. The love adventure between Mary and Lukasz is one of the key elements that add to the entertaining potential of this narrative. Kathleen Shoop keeps it real and human, succeeding in creating an emotional connection between the reader and the characters.—Ruffina Oserio for Readers’ Favorite

About the Author

Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. She lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | BookBub

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, May 1

Thursday, May 2
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Feature at Comet Readings

Friday, May 3

Saturday, May 4

Tuesday, May 7
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, May 8
Feature at Donna's Book Blog

Friday, May 10

Monday, May 13

Tuesday, May 14

Wednesday, May 15
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Thursday, May 16
Interview at Passages to the Past

Monday, May 20
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Tuesday, May 21
Review at Macsbooks

Wednesday, May 22
Review at Coffee and Ink
Review at Peaceful Pastime
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story


During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away a copy of The Strongman and the Mermaid and a $50 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Strongman and Mermaid

Monday, May 6, 2019

0 Betray a friend, and they may become a deadly enemy! Week 2 of SYNC's audiobooks for teens is available for download!

SYNC is back! And I'm a little behind. My apologies. If you're new to SYNC, here's what you need to know:

SYNC is a free summer audiobook program for teens. Returning April 25, 2019, SYNC will give away two complete audiobook downloads a week - pairs of high interest titles, based on weekly themes. Sign up for email or text alerts and be first to know when new titles are available to download at

Every Thursday SYNC releases two new titles. Sign up for their email and you'll get a reminder in your inbox, or just come here and I'll have a link to where you can download the titles. Here's a list of this year's titles:

This week's titles are: 

Remember, you only have until WEDNESDAY to download these titles, so don't wait. It's super easy and fast to do.

by William Shakespeare | Read by Ewan McGregor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kelly Reilly, Edward Bennett, James Laurenson, Tom Hiddleston, Alastair Sims, David Mara, Michael Hadley, Michael Jenn, Michelle Fairley, Martina Laird Published by Naxos AudioBooks 

Shakespeare’s Othello is one of his finest and most famous tragedies. This highly acclaimed performance, which ran between November 2007 and February 2008 at the Donmar Warehouse in London, features Chiwetel Ejiofor as the Moor Othello, Ewan McGregor as the scheming Iago, and Kelly Reilly as the gentle Desdemona. This recording features music written specifically for the stage production which enjoyed huge success – each performance was a sell-out.

by Charles Benoit | Read by David Baker
Published by Full Cast Audio

Charles Benoit has created a stunner of a debut novel, one of the most anticipated titles of the fall season. Told entirely in the second person, the story quickly immerses us in the world of bright, disaffected Kyle Chase, who once showed great potential but by tenth grade has become a genuine slacker. With uncanny insight, crafting what can only be called YA Noir, Benoit takes us deep inside the mind of a young man on a collision course with catastrophe. Of the print version, Publisher's Weekly said in a starred review: “Disturbing content blends with skillful, fast-paced writing, adding a thriller spin to the novel's vicious realism." Now David Baker – narrator of our highly acclaimed recording of Graceling – offers a reading that captures and builds the sense of loss and dread that makes this novel both disturbing and irresistible.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

0 Christina Henry has a new book coming out, and the cover is AMAZING!


By Christina Henry

Berkley Trade Paperback Original

ISBN: 9780451492289

$16.00 / 304 pages

June 18, 2019


From the national bestselling author of Alice comes a postapocalyptic take on the perennial classic "Little Red Riding Hood"...about a woman who isn't as defenseless as she seems. It's not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn't look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago. There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there's something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined. Red doesn't like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn't about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods...

 Praise for The Girl in Red:

"Satisfyingly upends the familiar tale of a clever girl, a dangerous wolf, and a brave savior, and folklore fans will enjoy this bloody near-future variation on a familiar theme.”—Publishers Weekly

Praise for Christina Henry:

“A riveting rewrite of Peter Pan.”—The Wall Street Journal on Lost Boy

“This wild, unrelenting tale, full to the brim with the freedom and violence of young boys who never want to grow up, will appeal to fans of dark fantasy.”—Booklist on Lost Boy

“Beautifully written and daringly conceived, The Mermaid is a fabulous story, in both senses of that word. It’s full of magic and passion and courage, set against a convincing historical backdrop in which women, much less mermaids, have only the power they seize for themselves. Henry’s spare, muscular prose is a delight. I loved this novel.”—Louisa Morgan, author of The Secret History of Witches


Christina Henry is the author of Alice, Red Queen, Lost Boy, The Mermaid, and the national bestselling Black Wings series, featuring Agent of Death Madeline Black and her popcorn-loving gargoyle, Beezle. She lives in Chicago and can be found online at and on Twitter @C_Henry_Author.


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