Thursday, July 18, 2019

0 Beyond Assumptions: Week 13 of Sync's Summer of #Audiobooks

Available for a Limited Time
Remember — grab these titles before they are replaced by a new pairing on 7/25/2019! 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 Veronica Chambers | Read by Karla Souza
Published by Penguin Random House Audio/Listening Library

Fans of Jane the Virgin will find much to love about The Go-Between, a coming-of-age novel from bestselling author Veronica Chambers, who with humor and humanity explores issues of identity and belonging in a world that is ever-changing.

by David Arnold | Read by Phoebe Strole, Michael Crouch, Ryan Vincent Anderson
Published by Penguin Random House Audio/Listening Library
Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell. It begins with the death of Vic’s father. It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle. The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it. But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between. Please note: this download does not come with access to the PDF that is referenced in the recording, but it is not necessary for an enjoyable listen.

0 LOVE BIG Giveaway

Written by Kat Kronenberg
Publisher’s Synopsis: The once thriving, African savanna has turned dry and desolate. Baboon watches animals who are so hungry that they seek only their own interest. Rhinoceros destroys Termite’s castle in his race to find food. Hare chooses not to share food with her family, and Lion steals from his pride. But after Baboon sees Rhinoceros give Hare his snack-on-a-stick, everything changes! Baboon realizes that a transformative power exists between the animals and the stardust that surrounds them once they share smiles and truly believe in themselves and each other. Read on to see if Baboon can save the savanna with this new secret and a very stinky, unlike hero…
Ages 3-10 | Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press | January 8, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1626346000

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Kat Kronenberg’s Love Big, signed by Kat Kronenberg, and a school visit from the author valued at $550! Plus, everyone can be a winner by visiting Kat’s website and collecting all of the fun downloads.
One (1) winner receives:
  • A school visit from Kat Kronenberg*
  • A copy of Love Big, signed by Kat Kronenberg
  • Kat’s new Light-Up Heart of Stars plush toy
  • All of the downloadable activities and extras from Kat Kronenberg’s website
Five (5) winners receive:
  • A copy of Love Big, signed by Kat Kronenberg
  • Kat’s new Light-Up Heart of Stars plush toy
Giveaway begins June 20, 2019, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends July 20, 2019, at 11:59 P.M. PST.
Giveaway open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 17 and older.
Kat Kronenberg is responsible for prize fulfillment. *Date, time, and school for the visit is to be worked out between the winner and author Kat Kronenberg. The school must be within 2 hours driving distance of any major airport and on the mainline. Parent’s at the school must be offered a chance to buy Love Big so that their students have the opportunity to take home an autographed copy with their name in it – thrilling. Kat Kronenberg must be able to set up at least one more school visit in the area. Click here for the giveaway rules.


Per FTC guidelines, I work in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Jenn Holt.


June 20, 2019
The Children's Book Review
Book Giveaway
June 21, 2019
Word Spelunking
Book Giveaway
June 24, 2019
Book Giveaway
June 25, 2019
Heart to Heart
Book Giveaway
June 26, 2019
icefairy's Treasure Chest
Book Giveaway
June 27, 2019
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Book Giveaway
June 28, 2019
Tales of A Wanna-Be SuperHero Mom
Book Giveaway
July 1, 2019
Confessions of a Book Addict
Book Giveaway
July 2, 2019
The Fairview Review
Book Giveaway
July 3, 2019
A Dream Within A Dream
Book Giveaway
July 8, 2019
Rosco's Reading Room
Book Giveaway
July 16, 2019
Barbara Ann Mojica's Blog
Book Giveaway
July 18, 2019
To Read, or Not To Read
Book Giveaway

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

0 Review: Death in a Desert Land

Death in a Desert Land (Agatha Christie #3)
by Andrew Wilson
Published July 9th 2019 by Atria Books
352 pages


Fresh from solving the gruesome murder of a British agent in the Canary Islands, mystery writer Agatha Christie receives a letter from a family who believe their late daughter met with foul play. Before Gertrude Bell overdosed on sleeping medication, she was a prominent archaeologist, recovering ancient treasures in the Middle East. Found near her body was a letter claiming that Bell was being followed. To complicate things further, Bell was competing with another archeologist, Mrs. Woolley, for the rights to artifacts of immense value.

Christie travels to far-off Persia, where she meets the enigmatic Mrs. Woolley as she is working on a big and potentially valuable discovery. Temperamental but brilliant, Mrs. Woolley quickly charms Christie but when she does not hide her disdain for the recently deceased Miss Bell, Christie doesn’t know whether to trust her—or if Bell’s killer is just clever enough to hide in plain sight.

My Thoughts

I've only been a fan of Agatha Christie for a short time. I've read a handful of her books, which I loved. On discovering her books, I've also discovered several other authors who have paid tribute to Christie by writing their own mysteries inspired by her. Andrew Wilson is one of these authors. I came across his first two books in the series early last year. I loved how he took facts based on Christie's life and used them to build a series that is wonderfully brilliant with the lead character being no other than the Queen of Mystery herself. 

Death in a Desert Land takes place in Ur, a land that is as old as time. Christie receives a letter from a family who believes their relative, Gertrude Bell, has been murdered even though it is thought she committed suicide.. After talking it over with Davidson, her government colleague, it is agreed that Christie should go to Ur to investigate.

From the moment Christie meets the Woolley's she realizes that not everything is at it seems. Mrs. Woolley is charming and brutal. She doesn't hide her dislike of Ms. Bell. The deeper Agatha digs, the more suspicious she becomes. And of course when another person turns up dead, the pressure is put on Christie to solve the crime before somebody else dies.

I often wonder if Christie was approached in real life by the police to solve the unsolvable. I believe she must have had a singular mind to come up with such thrilling plots. I love the fact that Wilson uses true elements from Christie's life to build a mystery of his own. One of my favorite parts of this book, besides the actual story, is the author's note at the end titled "The Facts." In this part, Wilson lays out what is true and what was a product of his imagination. 

As for the story itself, I loved it. Truly. It did remind me of one of Christie's stories while reading, with enough differences to make it its own. There's also a multitude of characters to choose from when trying to guess the murderer. Without giving anything away, I did guess the murder, but not the motive. However, it took me most of the book to do so. And there were enough surprises that it didn't take away from the story. I'm not sure when Wilson's next book in the Agatha Christie series will come out, but there's only one thing to do in the meantime: read more Agatha Christie books!

Friday, July 12, 2019

0 Review: One Little Secret

One Little Secret
by Cate Holahan
Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: July 9th 2019 by Crooked Lane Books


Everyone has a secret. For some, it's worth dying to protect. For others, it's worth killing.

The glass beach house was supposed to be the getaway that Susan needed. Eager to help her transplanted family set down roots in their new town - and desperate for some kid-free conversation - she invites her new neighbors to join in on a week-long sublet with her and her workaholic husband.

Over the course of the first evening, liquor loosens inhibitions and lips. The three couples begin picking up on the others' marital tensions and work frustrations, as well as revealing their own. But someone says too much. And the next morning one of the women is discovered dead on the private beach.

Town detective Gabby Watkins must figure out who permanently silenced the deceased. As she investigates, she learns that everyone in the glass house was hiding something that could tie them to the murder, and that the biggest secrets of all are often in plain sight for anyone willing to look.

A taut, locked room mystery with an unforgettable cast of characters, One Little Secret promises to keep readers eyes glued to the pages and debating the blinders that we all put on in the service of politeness.

My Thoughts

*I received a ecopy of this book for review purposes only. It has in no way influenced my review.

I sat down to read a few chapters of One Little Secret by Cate Holahan before bed one night, and before I knew it, a few hours had passed. That's how quickly I was sucked into this story. The next day I found myself hurrying through my to-do list just so I could sit down and read. 

Three couples rent a beach house for a much-needed getaway. At first, everything seems perfect, but then things start to fall apart, and tensions arise. The carefully cultivated image each couple presents starts to crack, especially when one of the women is discovered dead on the beach.

Detective Gabby Wilkins gets called to the crime scene. As she investigates, she realizes that they are all hiding something. Uncovering the truth of what happened to the murder victim is a lot more complicated than she anticipated. 

Each chapter reveals more and more of the dysfunction of the characters' lives. building the suspense. The book also makes you think about things not said in conversations and how people put on blinders to avoid any unpleasantness.  One Little Secret is entertaining and full of suspense. I breezed through the pages trying to figure out who the murderer was. This is a fast-paced book that I highly recommend! 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

0 Before they were Famous: Week 12 of Sync's Summer of #Audiobooks

Available for a Limited Time
Remember — grab these titles before they are replaced by a new pairing on 7/18/2019! 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 Deborah Heiligman | Read by Philip Fox
Published by Dreamscape Media

The deep and enduring friendship between Vincent and Theo Van Gogh defined both brothers' lives. As a confidant, champion, sympathizer, and friend, Theo financially and emotionally supported his older brother as the artistic but troubled Vincent struggled to find his path in life as both a painter and a man. Throughout that struggle, the brothers shared everything - swapping stories of lovers and friends, successes and disappointments, dreams and ambitions. Drawing on the 658 letters Vincent wrote to Theo during his lifetime, Deborah Heiligman weaves a meticulously researched tale of those two intertwined lives and the extraordinary love that fueled them.

by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar | Read by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Published by Hachette Audio

The first memoir for young readers by sports legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. At one time, Lew Alcindor was just another kid from New York City with all the usual problems: He struggled with fitting in, with pleasing a strict father, and with overcoming shyness that made him feel socially awkward. But with a talent for basketball, and an unmatched team of supporters, Lew Alcindor was able to transform and to become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. From a childhood made difficult by racism and prejudice to a record-smashing career on the basketball court as an adult, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s life was packed with “coaches” who taught him right from wrong and led him on the path to greatness. His parents, coaches Jack Donahue and John Wooden, Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee, and many others played important roles in Abdul-Jabbar’s life and sparked him to become an activist for social change and advancement. The inspiration from those around him, and his drive to find his own path in life, are highlighted in this personal and awe-inspiriting journey. Written especially for young readers, Becoming Kareem chronicles how Kareem Abdul-Jabbar become the icon and legend he is today, both on and off the court.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: Editor in Chic

Editor in Chic: How to Style and Be Your Most Empowered Self
by Mikki Taylor
Narrated by Mikki Taylor
Length: 9 hrs and 27 mins
Published February 26th 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio

I received this book from Simon Schuster Audio for review purposes. I was not compensated. All opinions are my own. 


“First Lady of Beauty” and trusted lifestyle expert Mikki Taylor shares uplifting advice for women who want to cultivate their beauty both inside and out.

My Thoughts

Mikki Taylor is a woman who has it all, and she worked hard to get there. As Essence's beauty editor she knows what it takes to be beautiful, both inside and out. Mikki Taylor narrates this book, which is perfect because it's like having a wise girlfriend sitting next to you, spilling her beauty secrets. I love both Mikki's writing style and voice, but I don't recommend this as an audiobook.

The beginning of the book deals with your inner beauty. Taking care of yourself mentally and physically. Eating right, exercising, socializing, taking some introvert time to center yourself. Mikki is also a woman of faith and doesn't shy away from telling you how faith has impacted her life. She encourages others not to neglect that side of themselves.  Looking good and feeling good go hand in hand. As women, sometimes we feel selfish when we put ourselves first, but Mikki makes some great points on why we should not do that.

The second half of the book deals with everything from your skin and makeup to your nails and feet. She makes some great product recommendations too. My only complaint is that some of her recommendations are more on the expensive side. However, in many categories she also listed products that you could pick up at your local drugstore. I even bought the calf stretcher that she recommended, and let me tell you, it's a game changer.

Mikki draws inspiration from the women around her. You'll find several quotes and stories from these powerful women. This book is intended more for women of color, but has something in it for women of all colors, shapes, and sizes. I'm grateful for the opportunity to read and review this book. It was a great reminder that I don't need to put myself on the back burner.

Monday, July 8, 2019

2 Review and Giveaway: Say No To The Duke by Eloisa James

Say No to the Duke (The Wildes of Lindow Castle #4)
by Eloisa James
384 pages
Expected publication: June 25th 2019 by Avon


One little wager will determine their fate—a daring escape or falling into temptation with a rakish lord. 

Lady Betsy Wilde’s first season was triumphant by any measure, and a duke has proposed—but before marriage, she longs for one last adventure.

No gentleman would agree to her scandalous plan—but Lord Jeremy Roden is no gentleman. He offers a wager. If she wins a billiards game, he’ll provide the breeches.

If he wins…she is his, for one wild night.

But what happens when Jeremy realizes that one night will never be enough? In the most important battle of his life, he’ll have to convince Betsy to say no to the duke.

*I received this book via the publisher. All opinions are my own.

My Thoughts

Say No to the Duke is the fourth book in the Wildes of Lindow saga by Eloisa James. Each book features a Wilde and their quest to find a lasting love. This book focuses on Lady Boadicea aka Betsy. I love that she's named after a fierce warrior queen. Her personality seems to fit the bill as well. Betsy is determined to have every man fall at her feet, not because she's vain, but because she has something to prove to herself. When at last she gets a proposal from a duke, she runs into a problem: Lord Jeremy Roden.

Lord Jeremy is suffering from PTSD and is staying with the Wildes while he tries to recover from his trauma. He's not the kind of man Betsy is looking for. He's rude, drunk, and a bit too rakish for Betsy. Perfect for a friend, not so much a husband. Over a game of pool, Betsy and Jeremy make a wager. A wager that would ruin both if they were found out.

Eloisa James writes the best characters. I loved that she gives her characters real problems, real insecurities. I think this is the first historical romance that I've come across where a soldier was dealing with PTSD. I applaud her for going there. As with James' other novels this is a delightful read. It met all my expectations as I breezed through the pages.

With James, I always know that I'm going to get a great story filled with humor and romance. The characters are fierce, fun, and flirty. And for a few hours, I will be swept away into the wonderful world of the Wildes.

Thanks to Avon, I have a copy to give away to a lucky reader!

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

– Giveaway is open to US and Canada only.

– 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 a new winner is chosen.

Please fill out the rafflecopter for below for the giveaway.

Friday, July 5, 2019

1 Severed Knot by Cryssa Bazos: Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway

Severed Knot by Cryssa Bazos

Publication Date: June 7, 2019
W.M. Jackson Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

Barbados 1652. In the aftermath of the English Civil War, the vanquished are uprooted and scattered to the ends of the earth.

When marauding English soldiers descend on Mairead O’Coneill’s family farm, she is sold into slavery. After surviving a harrowing voyage, the young Irish woman is auctioned off to a Barbados sugar plantation where she is thrust into a hostile world of depravation and heartbreak. Though stripped of her freedom, Mairead refuses to surrender her dignity.

Scottish prisoner of war Iain Johnstone has descended into hell. Under a blazing sun thousands of miles from home, he endures forced indentured labour in the unforgiving cane fields. As Iain plots his escape to save his men, his loyalties are tested by his yearning for Mairead and his desire to protect her.

With their future stolen, Mairead and Iain discover passion and freedom in each other’s arms. Until one fateful night, a dramatic chain of events turns them into fugitives. Together they fight to survive; together they are determined to escape.

Available on Amazon

Creating the Characters of Severed Knot

I have a passion for secondary characters, especially the ones that charge onto the page nearly fully formed. I don’t have to worry about making them perfect or hero/heroine worthy. They can do and act as they please. But eventually, they endear themselves to me and capture my heart, imperfections and all, and their story begins to take shape in my mind. This is how Iain Johnstone came to be the hero of Severed Knot.

Iain got his start in the first draft of my first novel, Traitor’s Knot, long before he was even a Johnstone. At the time he was a Highlander, but in subsequent drafts as the needs of the story morphed, he became the canny, confrontational border Scot he is today. 

He was never easy, I’ll give him that. Through Iain, I discovered how absolutely fascinating Scottish history is, in particular during the mid-seventeenth century. As a side character in my first novel, he led me down several beguiling rabbit warrens and I had to read the riot act to him and (sadly) scale his parts back—but not before promising him his own story to romp around in.  

Even then, I nearly didn’t write his story, but the fate of the Scottish Prisoners of War after King Charles II’s defeat at the Battle of Worcester kept whispering to me. Iain was one of those prisoners—I kept visualizing him and the others in a dank, dismal cell plagued with gaol fever and poor rations. Iain Johnstone refused to let me off the hook. When he first walked onto my page, he was a man in his element and on his own turf. In Severed Knot, all that was taken from him and a strong, capable man was reduced to forced servitude while struggling to maintain his pride. Throughout Severed Knot, I dove deeper into his psyche and got to know what made him furious, what made him melancholy and what he needed the most. 

The heroine of Severed Knot, Mairead O’Coneill, walked on the stage in my mind with her violin while I was listening to local musicians play at a spring festival gathering.  I don’t remember very much about the band because while they were playing, I kept envisioning a slight slip of a woman playing a fiddle while a jaded Scotsman looked on in amazement. Through his eyes, I imagined an unassuming woman transform through her music into someone special. Those two were well ahead of me, and I had to scramble to get the ideas down on a napkin as I didn’t have either a notebook or a phone at hand. It wasn’t long before I realized that she was what he most needed.

As I wrote and developed both Iain and Mairead in Severed Knot, I relied on music to further inspire me and their stories. It’s part of my writing process to create a soundtrack for the book, and at this time I discovered the works of Scottish musician Dougie McLean and Irish singer Cara Dillon. If you are interested in hearing some of the tunes that inspired me, check out my Severed Knot playlist on Spotify


The song ended, and Iain watched Alastair as he entered the crushing mill. He disappeared for a moment, and when he reappeared, he cradled a violin in the crook of his arm. 
Iain couldn’t sit there any longer. Passing by the keg, he dropped the cup on top and manoeuvred through the crowd to head back to his hut. 
Tam stopped him. “Where are you off to, Scotsman? You’re truly sour, man.” 
“I’ve had enough.” Iain patted the man on the shoulder and attempted to move past him. Before he did, he glanced to the crushing mill in time to see Alastair handing the violin to Mairead. The rapt expression on her face made Iain pause. She handled the instrument reverently, as carefully as a woman cradling her bairn. Iain had never seen her eyes so round, her normally wary expression soft. 
Mairead lifted the violin to her collarbone and adjusted her grip. She tried a few tentative plucks and adjusted the tuning until the chord sounded right. She lifted the bow against the strings and started to play.  
The sound that came from her violin was low, wistful and with a melody that stirred long-buried hopes. Both light and dark notes rounded each other out as she pushed the tune farther along. A low drumbeat joined in, and she adjusted her rhythm slightly to hit the rising notes with the downbeat. 
Then the main melody started. 
Iain knew this song. An old Scottish ballad, one of his favourites. It called to mind the longing of home. It had been the song that he had sung to himself during the gruelling journey from England.
How was it that she stood there playing that very song? 
The melody had always stirred him, providing comfort during all those times he had been away on campaign, far from home. But Mairead’s rendition added layers he had never heard. The mournful tone of the violin spoke of the wind in the firs and smoky twilight clinging to the mountains. A flight of swallows darting in a cold twilight sky and the cry of terns riding a lonely sea breeze. It called to memory swiftly flowing burns bordered with purple heather, and the hope of love reunited.
As she played, the lyrics flowed through his mind: An’ what will be the love-tokens that ye will send wi me . . . A kiss, aye, will I twae an’ ever she come to fair Scotland . . . I the red gold she sall gae . . .
Iain felt it deep in his bones. Each note ripped through his defences, stone and mortar. Everything melted away. He forgot the crowd, forgot his situation and the harshness of the sugarcane fields. Only Mairead and her song remained. 
He moved closer to the platform. Mairead stood several feet away, her eyes closed and head tilted sideways. Her lashes fanned her flushed cheeks, and her mouth was slightly parted. At times, a smile flitted across her lips, while at others her brow puckered into a frown, but always her expression remained enraptured. He watched, fascinated, as the bow danced over the strings, directed by nimble fingers.
Iain hung on every note as though it were the last. Good, sweet Lord, he didn’t want it to end. 
The song finally ended, and Mairead drew her last pass with the bow. Her hand stilled, and her shoulders went limp. A single tear traced down her cheek. When she opened her eyes, her unfocused gaze found his, and the look shot right through him. 
Around Iain, men whistled and clapped, not realising that the earth had just shifted. 

About the Author

Cryssa Bazos is a historical fiction writer and 17th Century enthusiast, with a particular interest in the English Civil War (ECW). She blogs about English history and storytelling at her blog, the 17th Century Enthusiast, and is an editor of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog site.

Cryssa’s debut novel, Traitor’s Knot, a romantic tale of adventure set during the English Civil War. Traitor’s Knot is the first in a series of adventures spanning from the ECW to the Restoration and is now available from Endeavour Press. The second book in the series, Severed Knot, will be released in June 2019.

For more information visit Cryssa’s website. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, June 20
Review at Gwendalyn Books

Monday, June 24
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, June 25
Feature at Comet Readings

Friday, June 28

Monday, July 1

Tuesday, July 2

Wednesday, July 3

Friday, July 5
Guest Post & Excerpt at To Read, Or Not to Read

Monday, July 8


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Severed Knot by Cryssa Bazos! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 8th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US and Canada only.
– 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 a new winner is chosen.

Severed Knot


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