THE HONEYMOONER by Melanie Summers BOOK BLITZ – Plus Enter to Win a $100 Amazon Gift Card & more

Title: The Honeymooner

Series: PARADISE BAY – BOOK ONE

Author: Melanie Summers

Publication date: August 7th 2018

Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance, Canadian Author

ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! The Honeymooner is a must read…I didn’t want this book to end. Get it today and start laughing. ~ Jilleen, SeasideBooknook.com

A must read! More than 5 stars! Melanie Summers could write a menu and I’d read it… I love her stories, they are all heart and soul. All I can say is I want to move to Paradise Bay! ~Lori Zenobia, Goodreads Reviewer

From bestselling author Melanie Summers comes the wickedly funny, ridiculously romantic spinoff of her highly-acclaimed Crown Jewels Series…

Twenty-eight-year-old workaholic Libby Dewitt lives by the motto ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ She’s finally about to start her dream life with her steady-as-a-rock fiancé, Richard Tomy. Together, they’re the perfect power couple—right down to the fact that he’s agreed to use their honeymoon to help further her career in mergers and acquisitions. But ten minutes before the wedding, her dreams dissolve via text message.

Devastated and humiliated, Libby escapes to Paradise Bay alone. She’s got two goals for her trip: to devise a plan to get Richard back and to convince resort owner Harrison Banks to sell his property to her company. Unfortunately, when she arrives, she discovers that tall, dark, and built, Harrison is not about to make anything easy for her.

Instead, he derails her plans while at the same time, bringing out a side of Libby she’s kept carefully tucked away—a carefree, adrenaline junkie. After a few days together, Harrison’s got her wondering if the life she always wanted was meant for some other girl. Suddenly, Libby must decide which version of herself she wants to be.

Will she go back to her comfortable, safe life, or risk everything to be with the only man who’s ever made her feel truly alive?

Goodreads / Amazon

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EXCERPT:

“Oh my God…did we…?” I press the sheet to me again, gripping it so tightly, my knuckles turn white.

“You don’t remember? It was amazing. The earth moved. And you—you were loud enough that we probably cleared out the entire resort.” He grins at me, then rolls off the bed and starts across the room, giving me a view of his muscly back and behind. Those are some seriously tight shorts.

No, Libby! Do not focus on his taut buttocks! You are not that kind of girl. “I’m very sorry, but I’m afraid I don’t remember any of it.”

“None of it?” he asks.

When I shake my head, he says, “That’s a real crime because it was the best night you’ve ever had. You told me as much right after round three.” Opening the mini-fridge, he grabs a bottle of water and takes off the lid. “At least I have it all on video.”

“What?!” My pulse speeds up, and I suddenly feel both hot and dizzy. What have I turned into? Some kind of hussy? Or worse—my mother?

“I didn’t think it was a good idea, but you were pretty insistent.” He shrugs, then crosses the room and holds the bottle of water out to me.

I take it cautiously, then shrink back from him a bit. Why would a man this hot do whatever predictable, boring old Libby Dewitt said to do?

In an instant, it all makes perfect sense. My heart sinks and I let out a loud groan. “You’re a gigolo, aren’t you?”

“What?”

“Listen, I don’t know what I told you last night, but I can’t afford to pay you. I’m a little low on cash at the—”

“I’m not a gigolo.”

“Then why would you…?” I don’t really know how to put this. Why would someone as hot as you sleep with a very plain Jane like me?

“Why would I what?” He folds his arms across his broad chest.

My words come out rushed. “Sleep with someone like me.”

“Are you kidding right now?” he asks, raising one eyebrow.

“No, I’m afraid not.” I shake my head, then wince because my brain is pounding and because I really don’t want to hear his answer. I’ve had enough rejection for one weekend. Before he can say anything, I take a wild stab at it. “Now I get it, you’re one of those guys with extremely low standards. The type who’ll sleep with anything with a pulse.” I gasp again. “Oh my God. I probably have an STD by now, don’t I?”

“Ouch,” he says, rubbing at his chest. “You’re pretty mean when you’re sober.”

“Sorry. I don’t mean to insult you. I’m honestly just very confused.” I sigh and close my eyes for a second, unable to stand the look of hurt in his strikingly brilliant hazel eyes. “Maybe it would be best if you just left. I’m really not myself at the moment.”

“Okay, but it might make more sense if you left.”

“Why?” I ask, opening my eyes again.

“This is my room.”

Author Bio:

Melanie Summers also writes steamy romance as MJ Summers.

Melanie made a name for herself with her debut novel, Break in Two, a contemporary romance that cracked the Top 10 Paid on Amazon in both the UK and Canada, and the top 50 Paid in the USA. Her highly acclaimed Full Hearts Series was picked up by both Piatkus Entice (a division of Hachette UK) and HarperCollins Canada. Her first three books have been translated into Czech and Slovak by EuroMedia. Since 2013, she has written and published three novellas, and eight novels (of which seven have been published). She has sold over a quarter of a million books around the globe.

In her previous life (i.e. before having children), Melanie got her Bachelor of Science from the University of Alberta, then went on to work in the soul-sucking customer service industry for a large cellular network provider that shall remain nameless (unless you write her personally – then she’ll dish). On her days off, she took courses and studied to become a Chartered Mediator. That designation landed her a job at the R.C.M.P. as the Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinator for ‘K’ Division. Having had enough of mediating arguments between gun-toting police officers, she decided it was much safer to have children so she could continue her study of conflict in a weapon-free environment (and one which doesn’t require makeup and/or nylons).

Melanie resides in Edmonton with her husband, three young children, and their adorable but neurotic one-eyed dog. When she’s not writing novels, Melanie loves reading (obviously), snuggling up on the couch with her family for movie night (which would not be complete without lots of popcorn and milkshakes), and long walks in the woods near her house. She also spends a lot more time thinking about doing yoga than actually doing yoga, which is why most of her photos are taken ‘from above’. She also loves shutting down restaurants with her girlfriends. Well, not literally shutting them down, like calling the health inspector or something–more like just staying until they turn the lights off.

She is represented by Suzanne Brandreth of The Cooke Agency International.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:
Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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REMOTE by Lisa Acerbo BOOK BLITZ and GIVEAWAY – Win an Amazon gift card and/or copies of her books.

Title: Remote

Author: Lisa Acerbo

Publication date: December 24th 2018

Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

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When technology fulfills every dream, reality is a nightmare.

Below the streets of New State, the Grounders fight to remain free of the technological control of the world above. When dusk falls, Wren risks her life by entering the capital city as a raider to secure resources for the rebellion. Each step further inside puts her life in jeopardy from New State’s deadliest weapons – Phantoms. More machine than human, tortured until devoid of emotion and caring, Phantoms have only one objective. Kill. And they do it with exacting precision.

Wren is good at her job as a raider and committed to the cause until she meets Codex, a New State citizen who doesn’t quite fit her preconceived expectations. After a couple of awkward encounters, he shows her the meaning of hooking up—a computer simulation that allows people to live out their fantasies—without the complication of emotional entanglements or physical reality. But what Wren feels for Codex is very real. And it’s punishable by death.

As she and Codex grow closer, Wren convinces him to leave New State for the underground. But unrest between New State and the Grounders escalates, and Phantoms move in to destroy her world. Nothing goes as Wren planned. Families are arrested, loyalties are strained, and Wren’s forced to choose between her people and her feelings. The wrong choice could mean the end of her people, and reality could slip away—forever…

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

“We should stop.” Part of her didn’t want to.

Codey ignored her words, pulling her closer.

Wren should draw back, take a breath, but her body betrayed her and she wrapped her arms around him tightly, tangling her fingers in his hair when their lips met. She kissed him back.

She felt his hand run over her thigh and then move up. He slid his fingers under the fabric of her worn sweater so he could caress her abdomen, tracing the lines of her ribs. In the next second, he whipped off his shirt and pulled her close, continuing to kiss her. She felt his skin, smooth and hot, and thought she would scream if she couldn’t get closer to him. She pushed herself against him, and Codey responded with another passionate kiss as he pressed gently against her on the bed.

The watch on Wren’s arm belched an alarm. Her mouth dropped open in a silent ‘ooh.’ How could so much time have passed? “This is bad.” She sprang off the bed. “I’m late.” Gaze intense she said, “You’re so not what I expected.”

“I’m not what a lot of people expect. But you can’t leave me like this. Hook ups never end like this.”

“Welcome to reality.” She smiled at him.

“I’m not sure I like it.” He adjusted his clothes.

“You have to help me. I had another reason for coming here but got distracted.” Wren didn’t have time to blush. “I need a tablet, smartphone, or portable computer and a change of clothes.”

“Why?”

“No time to explain.”

He acquiesced, grabbing an old six-inch tablet. She shoved it into her pack as Codey began to lead her out the door.

“We can get some of my mom’s clothes in the automatic laundry, but they might be big for you.”

“They’ll do.”

Codey stopped her in the doorframe of his room.

“What? We need to go.”

“Not until I get a“We should stop.” Part of her didn’t want to.

Codey ignored her words, pulling her closer.

She should draw back, take a breath, but her body betrayed her and she wrapped her arms around him tightly, tangling her fingers in his hair when their lips met. She kissed him back.

She felt his hand run over her thigh and then move up. He slid his fingers under the fabric of her worn sweater so he could caress her abdomen, tracing the lines of her ribs. In the next second, he whipped off his shirt and pulled her close, continuing to kiss her. She felt his skin, smooth and hot and thought she would scream if she couldn’t get closer to him. She pushed herself against him, and Codey responded with another passionate kiss as he pressed gently against her on the bed.

The watch on Wren’s arm belched an alarm. Her mouth dropped open in a silent oh. How could so much time have passed? “This is bad.” She sprang off the bed. “I’m late.” Gaze intense she said, “You’re so not what I expected.”

“I’m not what a lot of people expect. But you can’t leave me like this. Hook ups never end like this.”

“Welcome to reality.” She smiled at him.

“I’m not sure I like it.” He adjusted his clothes.

“You have to help me. I had another reason for coming here but got distracted.” Wren didn’t have time to blush. “I need a tablet, smartphone, or portable computer and a change of clothes.”

“Why?”

“No time to explain.”

He acquiesced, grabbing an old six-inch tablet. She shoved it into her pack as Codey began to lead her out the door.

“We can get some of my mom’s clothes in the automatic laundry, but they might be big for you.”

“They’ll do.”

Codey stopped her in the doorframe of his room.

“What? We need to go.”

“Not until I get another kiss.” His voice was husky and human, his smile unabashed.

Wren acquiesced.

Once downstairs in the laundry room, Codey shoved some of his mom’s clothes into a small duffle and handed it to Wren.

“What do you need these for?” he asked.

“I came here to get your opinion on the archives and tell you about something the Grounders are attempting, but never got the chance.”

“What are the clothes for?”

Wren didn’t know how much to reveal. She had to leave and return to the rest of the raiders soon or they’d trigger the alarm to search for her. She lacked the time to explain properly and hated to leave Codey guessing about the Grounders and the archive raid.

“It’s part of the plan being developed,” she said.

“What plan? Is it dangerous? Will you be risking your life?” Codey’s voice crept up an octave. “Nobody knows about us, right? My family wouldn’t get in trouble?”

“I’m so sorry, but I have to go. You’ll understand soon.” Wren hoped she survived so she could come back and explain.

Author Bio:

Lisa Acerbo is a high school teacher and adjunct faculty at the University of Phoenix. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, daughters, two dogs, and horse. When not writing, she mountain bikes, hikes, and tries to pursue some type of further education.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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Black & Decker READYMADE HOME FURNITURE DIY BOOK by Chris Peterson is now available and it is terrific. Great Projects will save you money and look super stylish.

Title: BLACK & DECKER READYMADE HOME FURNITURE

Subtitle: EASY BUILDING PROJECTS MADE FROM OFF-THE-SHELF ITEMS
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Author: CHRIS PETERSON
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Genre: NON-FICTION, CRAFTS & HOBBIES, HOME & GARDEN

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Length: 146 PAGES

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Publisher: QUARTO PUBLISHING GROUP – COOL SPRING PRESS

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Received From: NETGALLEY
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Release Date: DECEMBER 25, 2018

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ISBN: 978-0-7603-6162-7

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Price: $21.99 USD / $28.99 CDN (worth every penny)

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Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

You might not think it, but home stores carry all the furniture you’d find in a show room; it’s just not assembled yet. Black & Decker Readymade Home Furniture shows you how.

You can find just about any furnishing imaginable in the aisles of the home goods store—coffee tables, wine racks, chandeliers—with just a little assembly (and creativity) required. In Black & Decker Readymade Home Furniture, you will learn how to re-imagine the big-box building center as a source for stylish, customized home furnishings that are i nexpensive and easy to make yourself.

Metal connectors, pipes and ductwork, rope, sheet goods, glass, and all varieties of hardware are just a few of the ingredients you can shop for to turn yourself into a furniture maker— without the need to buy a lot of woodworking tools and learn complicated joinery.

Inside this book, you will find a wealth of insightful information on how to convert everyday building materials into fine furnishings, along with 24 projects, complete with instructions to get you started. Unique and custom styles and colors, durability (select the quality materials you want), low cost, and a sense of satisfaction are just a few of the benefits you will experience by doing your furniture shopping at your home center or hardware store.

MY REVIEW:

“Why are home craftsmen and craftswomen, and even the least experienced DIYer among us, drawn to the local hardware store as if in a trance? … What is that allure? Just what is it about hardware stores? The answer can be summed up into one word: possibilities.”

“…This book is about all the bits and pieces that can be put together in new and ingenious ways to create home furnishings and accents that are at once useful, fun, unique and economical.”

The book begins with a “Hardware Primer” which I found particularly helpful. There are photographs of the various types of screws and even a chart for adhesives – providing a quick go-to guide for which type of adhesion should be used in any given scenario and what the drawbacks are for each. There is even a shopping guide for what to look for when purchasing a studfinder (which, I believe every household should own.) In addition to those points I have listed, the guide provides much more necessary information and is good for beginners to learn and are good reminders even for the most skilled home craftsman.

The book is divided into sections. After the Hardware Primer is “Creative Reinventions” which contains fifteen projects, all with brilliant full color photographs of the finished product as well as several photos of each project taken as it is being built. These photographic illustrations are a wonderful addition to the book. They allow the reader to gauge how their work measures up to the book at multiple steps during the build process.

I will not list all the projects in the book, but I will name a few that I want to try to build. There is the rustic-chic Trim-and-Rope Mat that can be used anywhere in the home, including the front door, or the bathroom, or even in the bedroom or on the back deck.

The “Copper Pipe Pot Rack” is next on my husband’s ‘Honey-Do-List’ and I am excited to have it installed in my kitchen. This item could cost upwards of $1500 to buy already built, but will cost less than $100 to do-it-yourself.

The “Chunky Club Chair” is a project I would love to have multiples of. My ‘Honey-Do-List’ seems to be getting longer as I go through this book and discover more amazing projects.

The “Aluminum Sheet Lamp” reminds me of lamps seen in high-end lighting store. I found similar lamps selling online for $300 and up.

The “Living Wall” will turn your backyard, patio or deck into a work of art and depending on what you plant in it, it could also be a source of fresh herbs or vegetables all summer long. This is one project I plan to start in March and to keep it inside with each ‘pot’ planted with vegetable seeds and once summer comes I will move it outside to its rightful place.

Believe it or not, all the projects listed above are from only Section One of this amazing Do-it-yourself book.

The second section is titled: “Built-ins from Stock Cabinetry” and contains eight stunningly beautiful projects that can be completed in a single weekend.

The “Media Bar” from this section looks like something you would see in the “After” shot of a professional television renovation show. It is also being added to my ‘Honey-Do-List.” Wow! My husband is going to be a very busy guy, and my home will look phenomenal when these projects are completed.

I rate BLACK & DECKER READYMADE HOME FURNITURE: EASY BUILDING PROJECTS MADE FROM OFF-THE-SHELF ITEMS as 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I will come back to this post and add photographs of each project we do, as they are completed.

I highly recommend this book to anyone wishing to save money by building projects themselves and who are interested in upping the resale value of their home. These small projects will make a big impact on your home decor and I am very excited about getting started.

**Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.**
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chris Peterson is a veteran home improvement and design author.

Among the many books he has written are 5-Gallon Bucket Book, Building with Secondhand Stuff, Manskills, four books in the Ideas You Can Use series, and many books in Cool Springs Press’s BLACK+DECKER Complete Guide series.

He has also co-authored numerous home design books with noted media celebrities.

He lives in Ashland, Oregon.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

GOODREADS
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AMAZON
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CHAPTERS
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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE
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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Cool Springs Press is the leading publisher of step-by-step how-to books for both DIY gardening and home improvement. Their state and local gardening books are tailored to specific regional environments across the United States, while the renowned series of foolproof home improvement books have long been trusted on both the bookshelf and the job site.

To find out more about this Publisher visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
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INSTAGRAM
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TWITTER
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FACEBOOK
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GOODREADS
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PINTEREST
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YOUTUBE
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GRIM LOVELIES by Young Adult Bestselling Author Megan Shepherd is sure to enchant teens and adults alike. 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: GRIM LOVELIES

Author: MEGAN SHEPHERD

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, FANTASY FICTION

Length: 384 PAGES

Publisher: HMH TEEN – HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS

Received From: HMH TEEN INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY

Release Date: OCTOBER 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-80918-6 (Hardcover)

ISBN: 978-1-328-80962-9 (eBook)

Price: $17.99 USD HARDCOVER

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love.

But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human.

Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittoria, the evil witch who spelled her into existence.

That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood – and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away.

If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known… but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.

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MY REVIEW:

Inventive and dazzling, with a host of characters readers will be unable and unwilling to forget.

With a diverse cast, this book has everything required to become an instant Young Adult Best-Seller. Having just been released a little over two months ago, it is already trending on social media, and, if I have my way, it will trend even more after I post this review.

I love that the Author chose animals turned into humans as her main characters. I love that she chose the city of Paris as the headquarters of the Royals who reign over all magical beings. There has always been something alluring and mysterious about the historic city of Paris, especially to those of us in North America. With the millions of bones in the city’s catacombs, Paris also has a barely hidden sinister air.

Best-Selling Author Megan Shepherd has created a magical world that secretly exists alongside our own. Of course, we humans, or “Pretties” as the witches call us, are completely oblivious to the magic surrounding us.

Within this world there are “Beasties;” animals and birds who have had spells cast on them to change them into humans (sort of like the mice in the tale of Cinderella, except the change is permanent.) Anouk is one such Beastie. She is a year and a half old which is the equivalent of being a seventeen year old girl. For the entirety of her human existence, she has not been allowed to leave the house she was “born” in. It is the home of Mada Vittoria, the witch who changed Anouk from animal to human.

This imaginative tale, filled with magic, mystery and mayhem is perfect for today’s Young Adult audience. Readers of all types, and of all ages will be able to find a character to relate to.

There is a theme of good vs. evil in this book, but what, or who is deemed evil is often in the eye of the beholder.

GRIM LOVELIES is also a unique Coming-Of-Age tale in which Anouk realizes that her captivity at the hands of Mada (Witch) Vittoria, has resulted in her knowing very little about either the Pretties world, or the magical world of the Haute.

GRIM LOVELIES and the world of the Haute would make for a terrific and visually stunning movie. I very much hope to see this series become optioned for film.

I rate GRIM LOVELIES as a 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Young Adult novel and am excited to read more about Anouk and her other “Beastie” friends in the next installment of this wonderous tale.

***Thank you to HMH Teen for hosting the Instagram contest in which I won a Grim Lovelies prize pack. ***

MY FAVORITE QUOTES FROM THE BOOK:

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“Everything had a darker side, magic most of all.”

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“He was a twat and she’d sooner kiss a frog, but even frogs deserved little moments of joy.”

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“Even if we can find someone to recast our spell, I’m afraid that a spell alone can’t make us human. TRULY human. Only actions make a person human, not magic.”

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“I’m not a bird with broken wings… I don’t need to be sheltered.”

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“Through all this darkness, you’ve held on to love and hope, and that’s true strength.”

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THE CHARACTERS:

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BOUT THE AUTHOR:

MEGAN SHEPHERD – New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd grew up in her family’s independent bookstore in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

She is the author of several young adult and middle grade novels. She now lives and writes on a 125-year-old farm outside Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband, two cats, and an especially scruffy dog.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

MORE BOOKS BY MEGAN:

*** Leave a comment and let me know if you have read any of Megan’s books?

And if so, which was/is your favorite? Why?

4 Stars for PAPER WIFE by Laila Ibrahim – A timely tale of what it was like to move to a new country, where you knew noone and didn’t speak the language. NEW RELEASE!!!

Title: PAPER WIFE

Author: LAILA IBRAHIM

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION, DIVERSE FICTION, MULTICULTURAL FICTION, WOMEN’S FICTION

Length: 298 PAGES

Publisher: LAKE UNION PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 30, 2018

ISBN: 9781503904576

Price: $14.95 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

From the bestselling author of Yellow Crocus comes a heart-wrenching story about finding strength in a new world.

Southern China, 1923. Desperate to secure her future, Mei Ling’s parents arrange a marriage to a widower in California. To enter the country, she must pretend to be her husband’s first wife—a paper wife.

On the perilous voyage, Mei Ling takes an orphan girl named Siew under her wing. Dreams of a better life in America give Mei Ling the strength to endure the treacherous journey and detainment on Angel Island. But when she finally reaches San Francisco, she’s met with a surprise. Her husband, Chinn Kai Li, is a houseboy, not the successful merchant he led her to believe.

Mei Ling is penniless, pregnant, and bound to a man she doesn’t know. Her fragile marriage is tested further when she discovers that Siew will likely be forced into prostitution. Desperate to rescue Siew, she must convince her husband that an orphan’s life is worth fighting for. Can Mei Ling find a way to make a real family—even if it’s built on a paper foundation?

MY REVIEW:

With immigration currently being a hot button issue in the United States and many other countries around the world, the publication of this book could not be more timely.

Although this story begins ninety years ago in 1923, there are many alarming similarities between the discrimination faced by immigrants during that time period and the discrimination faced by those who have chosen to emigrate to the United States in modern times.

Mei Ling was happily living out her young life in China when the matchmaker arrived at the door of her parent’s home. A suitable match had been found for Mei Ling’s older sister and the wedding date was set. But, as fate would have it, her sister fell ill and her parents told Mei Ling that she would have to take her sister’s place.

This deception early in the story is only one of many deceptions and ‘white lies’ that occur throughout the book.

It is obvious that author Laila Ibrahim did her research for this book as the facts and traditions written about in this tale match perfectly with historic accounts from those who actually did leave China in hopes of a better life in the United States.

Laila Ibrahim’s writing style and subject matter reminds me of author Lisa See.

I enjoyed the story even though I found one event to be completely implausible. Despite that, the author has written a book that anyone who wonders what life might have been like for the huge wave of Asian immigrants who arrived en masse in the years following World War I will want to read.

I believe that by reading books such as PAPER WIFE, people will gain, at the very least, a small measure of empathy for people whose cultures and/or backgrounds are different from their own.

Reading stories like this one, prove to readers that people are more similar than they are different. We all want the same thing. We want a safe and comfortable place to sleep, a good education for our children, and a job that allows us to provide for our families.

In PAPER WIFE, Mei Ling was detained on Angel Island and interrogated by officials who used intimidation and threats to try to force her to change her story or to catch her in a lie. This is a true reflection of what immigrants were subjected to in 1925.

Chinese immigrants on Angel Island

Poetry carved into the walls at Angel Island

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We need to learn from the past. If we do not learn from our mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them.

I rate PAPER WIFE as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laila Ibrahim grew up in Whittier, California on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, and moved to Oakland, California to attend Mills College where she studied Psychology and Child Development. After getting a Master’s Degree in Human Development, she realized she wanted to do more hands on work with children, and opened up her own preschool: Woolsey Children’s School.

Her education and experiences as an educator and parent provide ample for her writing – especially her study of Attachment Theory and multiculturalism.

She identifies as a devout Unitarian Universalist – which is sort of like being a radical moderate – and worked as the Director of Children and Family Ministries at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland for five years.

She lives in a small co-housing community in Berkeley with her wife, Rinda, a public school administrator. She the proud mother of two wonderful young adult daughters and the not-so-proud mother of a rambunctious mini-Aussies.

Laila self-published Yellow Crocus in 2011 after agents repeatedly told her that no one would want to read a story about the love between an enslaved black woman and her privileged white charge. Over the years the readers have proven them wrong. She became a full-time writer in 2015.

Living Right, her second novel, is set in 2004, but with a similar theme: loving across difference. It goes beyond the headline to reveal the life and death stakes when a devoted mother struggles to reconcile her evangelical Christian beliefs with her son’s sexual orientation.

Mustard Seed continues with the lives of the Freedman and Johnson families after the Civil War.

Paper Wife tells the story of Mei Ling, a young woman forced by social upheaval to marry a stranger and immigrate from Southern China through Angel Island to San Francisco in 1923.

To read an interview with the author click HERE.

Laila loves calling or Skyping into bookclubs and public speaking. She can be contacted at ldibrahim@gmail.com

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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HISTORIC PHOTOS

Photos obtained from the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

S

OME OF THE POEMS LEFT BEHIND:

(Source: Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation)

A Few Selected Poems


獨坐稅關中,
心內起不痛。
亦因家道貧,
遠遊不近親。
兄弟來到叫,
只得上埠行。
黑鬼無道理,
唐人要掃地。
每日食兩餐,
何時轉回返。

– 辛亥年七月十二日李字題寧邑
Poem 3

Hear Poem 3 Read In Toishanese.

Translation
Sitting alone in the customs office,
How could my heart not ache?
Had my family not been poor,
I would not have traveled far away from home.
It was my elder brother who urged me
To embark on a voyage to this shore.
The black devil* here is unjust-
He forces the Chinese to clean the floor.
Two meals a day are provided,
But I wonder, when will I be homeward bound?

– Lee from Toishan District, September 4, 1911

*A pejorative to refer to those of African descent-here, presumably, an African Canadian working at the immigration station directed the detainees to sweep the floors.


妻囑情
出門求財為家窮,
把正心頭在路中。
路上野花君莫取,
為家自有係妻奴。
臨行知囑情千萬,
莫作奴言耳過風。
家中妻兒係莫掛,
勤儉二年掃祖宗。
妻兒衣裳無一件,
米盒掃來無半筒。
家中屋舍無間好,
爛溶爛揸穿爛帘。
夫係昔日都尋賭,
不念奴奴淚飄飄。
多得親兄來打稅,
莫學忘叔大恩公。

– 辛亥七月十二日到李字題寧邑
Poem 4

Hear Poem 4 Read in Toishanese.

Translation
My Wife’s Admonishment
We are poor, so you’re leaving home to seek wealth;
Keep hold of propriety while on this journey.
Never pick wildflowers along the road,*
For you have your own wife at home!
Before you depart, I admonish you a thousand times;
Don’t let my words just whistle past your ears.
Don’t worry about us, be diligent and frugal,
And two years hence return to sweep the ancestors’ tombs.
Your wife and children haven’t a thing to wear;
Not half a cup of rice can be scooped from the pot.
Our house and rooms are dilapidated;
Our housewares are worn, and the curtains torn.
In the past, you did nothing but gamble;
You never thought of me and my flowing tears.
You are fortunate your elder brother has paid the taxes-
Always remember your great debt to him!

– Lee from Toishan District, Arrived July 12, 1911

Footnotes: To engage in romantic/sexual affairs while away from home.

LOVE LIKE SKY by Middle-grade author Leslie C. Youngblood is a 5+Star Read. This book will win awards and become a Best Seller. Release Date is November 6th – Mark your calendars now!!!

Title: LOVE LIKE SKY

Author: LESLIE C. YOUNGBLOOD

Genre: MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION

Ages: 8 to 12 YEARS

Length: 304 PAGES

Publisher: DISNEY BOOK GROUP

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: NOVEMBER 6, 2018

ISBN: 9781368016506

Price: $16.99 USD

Rating: 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

G-baby and her younger sister, Peaches, are still getting used to their “blended-up” family. They live with Mama and Frank out in the suburbs, and they haven’t seen their real daddy much since he married Millicent. G-baby misses her best friend back in Atlanta, and is crushed that her glamorous new stepsister, Tangie, wants nothing to do with her.

G-baby is so preoccupied with earning Tangie’s approval that she isn’t there for her own little sister when she needs her most. Peaches gets sick-really sick. Suddenly, Mama and Daddy are arguing like they did before the divorce, and even the doctors at the hospital don’t know how to help Peaches get better.

It’s up to G-baby to put things right. She knows Peaches can be strong again if she can only see that their family’s love for her really is like sky.

MY REVIEW:

In the opening scene of LOVE LIKE SKY, G-baby is entertaining her younger sister Peaches by repeatedly dancing the “Nae Nae” and the “Dougie.” I defy anyone to read this and not smile. I believe that would be impossible.

LOVE LIKE SKY is set in the town of Snellville, Georgia, where eleven-year-old G-baby, her younger sister Peaches (real names – Georgiana And Patrice) and their mother have moved to a new town after their mother’s marriage to their new stepdaddy, Frank. G-baby had initially been excited about the marriage because it meant she would be gaining a big sister. However, she has since discovered that her new stepsister wants nothing to do with her or Peaches. On top of all the other changes, G-baby misses her best friend Nikki, whom she left behind in Atlanta.

G-baby becomes obsessed with trying to get her new stepsister to pay attention to her. This leaves baby sister, Peaches at loose ends and feeling left out.

When Peaches gets really sick, neither her parents nor her doctors know how to make her better.

G-baby is convinced that she knows how to make Peaches better. She just has to figure out how to convince her that her family loves her as much as the sky is wide.

Blended families are often more common than “traditional families” which means that many readers will be able to relate to the struggles that G-baby and Peaches face. The topic of blended families is only one of the many themes explored in this amazing debut novel. Other themes include:

– Divorce
– Parents fighting
– Death of a sibling (not Peaches, so don’t think I am giving away any plot points)
– Moving to a new town
– Leaving friends behind and trying to make new ones
– Hospitalization and siblings with a serious illness
– Growing up and a girl’s changing body and feelings
– Racial inequality
– Peaceful protests
– Trayvon Martin and the shooting of unarmed young, black men
– Parents getting remarried and jealousy of the new spouse
– and many more.

The author does an incredible job of making the characters feel real. For instance, G-baby’s father has remarried and his new wife’s name is Millicent. Instead of thinking of her by her given name, G-baby has nicknamed her “Millipede.” This is a very typical tween way to rebel against the new spouse. She is too young to conjure up any truly mean-spirited nickname, yet still needs a way to express her jealousy at what she sees as the reason her beloved Daddy doesn’t spend as much time with them as he used to.

The author’s gift for creating believable and unique characters is displayed in one of my favorite scenes – which captures the fierce loyalty six year old Peaches has for her mother. This scene takes place when G-baby comments about Tangie’s cooking and says it is better than their mother’s. “Peaches eyes widened. ‘Nobody cooks better than Mama.'” I loved this scene. In the grand scheme of the book, this scene is minor, but it is so believable that I found it memorable for it’s simple, yet powerful portrayal of familial loyalty.

If I had to choose a single theme to describe this book, it would be EMOTION.

“Why we gotta jump when he’s ready? What about the times we waited on him and he didn’t come? I bet he doesn’t keep Ms. Millicent Parker waiting for nothing. She’s his ‘best girl’ now.”

Kids with divorced parents will easily relate to the characters in this excellent middle-grade novel. Author Leslie Youngblood understands just how perceptive kids can be. This is clearly demonstrated in the following scene:

“Just like Mama, he didn’t know that I could tell a fake smile from a real one. Mama and Daddy’s separation made me an expert, especially when we’d have family dinner and they’d wear their mannequin smiles.”

I apologize for the length of this review, but I felt compelled to explain why I am giving this book the highest rating possible which is 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐. I realize that it is technically impossible to give a rating higher than 5 out of 5, but this book deserves to be in a category above all others.

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

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FAVORITE QUOTES:

“Mama said I got the name G-baby because I’d run to Daddy for every little thing. He’d swoop me up and say, ‘What’s wrong with George’s baby?’ Peaches real name is Patrice, but Mama loved Libby’s sliced peaches when she was pregnant with her, so that’s how she got her nickname.”

“Being a big sister was hard work.”

“Even though Mama says I can always talk to her, she means Mama stuff, like if someone is bullying me, or if a teacher is mean. Not like how to kiss a boy, or when it’s time to sneak a few cotton balls in my bra…”

“I’m supposed to have all the answers. That’s what it means to be a big sister, and why I want one of my very own.”

“When Mama and Daddy first tried to explain {why they were getting divorced}, Mama Said sometimes grown-ups ‘fall out of love.’ The best I can figure it: love is just a big old bed. When you’re not happy, you fall out of it.”

“There’s no reason on God’s green earth a boy should walk down the street with his boxers hanging out.”

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EXCERPT

“Love ain’t like that.”

How is it then?” Peaches asked, turning on her stomach to face me.

“It’s like sky. If you keep driving and driving, gas will run out, right?”

“That’s why we gotta go to the gas station.”

“Yep. But have you ever seen the sky run out? No matter how far we go?”

“No, when we look up, there it is.”

“Well that’s the kind of love Daddy and Mama got for us, Peaches—love like sky.”

“It never ends?”

Never.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Leslie C. Youngblood received an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. A former assistant professor of creative writing at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, she has lectured at Mississippi State University, UNC-Greensboro, and the University of Ghana at Legon.

She began her undergraduate degree at Morris Brown College and completed her bachelor’s at Georgia State University. After graduation, she served as a columnist and assistant editor for Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine.

She’s been awarded a host of writing honors including a 2014 Yaddo’s Elizabeth Ames Residency, the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Prize, a Hurston Wright Fellowship, and the Room of Her Own Foundation’s 2009 Orlando Short Story Prize. She received funding to attend the Norman Mailer Writers’ Colony in 2011. Her short story, “Poor Girls’ Palace,” was published in the winter 2009 edition of the Indiana Review, as well as Kwelijournal, 2014.

In 2010 she won the Go On Girl! Book Club Aspiring Writer Award. In 2016 she landed a two-book publishing deal with Disney-Hyperion for her Middle-Grade novel, LOVE LIKE SKY (Nov.6). She often teaches creative writing classes at Rochester, New York’s literary center, Writers & Books.

Born in Bogalusa, Louisiana, and raised in Rochester, New York, she’s fortunate to have a family of natural storytellers and a circle of supportive and family and friends.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
www.lesliecyoungblood.com

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“STRAY MAGIC” AUDIOBOOK REVIEW – A fairy tale for all those of us who love dogs and who dream about happy endings.

Title: STRAY MAGIC

Author: JACKIE BOUCHARD

Narrator: AISLING GRAY

Genre: FICTION, WOMEN’S FICTION, CONTEMPORARY FANTASY

Length: 9 HOURS, 1 Minute

Publisher: JACKIE BOUCHARD

Type of Book: AUDIOBOOK

Received From: THE NARRATOR – AISLING GRAY

Release Date: MARCH 26, 2018

Price on Audible: $13.67 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Cara Snow is newly divorced, stuck working for a jerky boss at a pet boutique, and dreading her soon-to-be-empty nest with only her beloved corgi for company. Worse still, her ex just got engaged. Doesn’t she deserve some romance, too? Or, at least a date for the Fur Ball. She’s always enjoyed the annual pet rescue gala, but this year her ex will be there with his fiancée. Meanwhile, Cara hasn’t met anyone- other than the irresistible dogs at the boutique’s adoption events.

Cara is shocked when her wish to fall for a man as easily as she does for those mutts summons Vincent. His velour track suit, paunchy belly, and tough-guy accent don’t exactly fit her childhood image of a fairy godfather. Not exactly on top of his game, he admits to being twenty-five years late. (Her daughter Winnie is convinced he must be there for her!) Vincent does his best and casts a spell “guaranteed” to help Cara find the One. But when she actually starts meeting men, none of them are her type. If only they were as perfect for her as the dogs they adopt. Did her screw-up fairy godfather botch the spell? If so, what will it mean not only for Cara but Vincent as well?

MY REVIEW:

The description of this story states: it is loosely based on “Cinderella,” and I agree that it is VERY LOOSELY based on the classic fairytale. I enjoyed this book much more than I did the fairytale version.

Why? Well, let’s start with the main character, Cara. She is not a doe-eyed innocent. Cara is a grown woman, with a grown daughter who is about to go off to college. To top it off, she has also just gone through a divorce which hit her self-esteem pretty hard. But, like many women, she did not allow herself to wallow in despair, she just moved on with her life the best she could. Sometimes it takes an exceptional amount of courage just to put one foot in front of the other.

Cara may not think of herself as courageous, but that is how I saw her right from the beginning. As the story progresses, her actions, her attitudes and even her angst all solidified my belief in her courageous spirit.

The introduction of a magical fairy godfather was hilarious. The author nailed this character. From his physical appearance to the clothes he chooses to wear, Cara’s Fairy Godfather is a hoot. And of course, Cara, like any other sane person, reacts to his appearance and his pronouncement of his Fairy Godfather status by thinking he must be an escapee from an insane asylum.

Cara works in a pet store and has a beagle as well who plays a prominent role in the story. Then of course there’s the hunky guy from Cara’s past.

There are lots of laughs in this audiobook as well as lots of tender moments. In fact, this book will constantly put a smile on the listeners face. What more could you want?

I loved the characters, I loved the setting, I love dogs as much as the protagonist does, I am also around her age, and my kids have left home to go to college as well. So, suffice it to say that I very much relate to the book’s central character.

This book is a great read, but I have to say that I firmly believe that narrator Aisling Gray’s performance is so perfect that it makes listening to the audiobook preferable over reading the paperback or eBook version of “Stray Magic.” I rate the narration as 5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I also rate the story as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I highly recommend this Audiobook to anyone who is in the mood for a light-hearted listening experience. I also recommend this audiobook to anyone and everyone who loves dogs.

*Thank you to Aisling Gray for providing me with a free copy of this audiobook. The fact that I received this audiobook free of charge has in no way impacted my review. I only review books and audiobooks 100% honestly and anyone sending me a book or audiobook agrees that my honest opinion will be posted – sometimes good, sometimes not so good.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jackie Bouchard, a USA Today bestselling author, writes what she calls Fido-friendly fiction – humorous and heart-warming stories about women and the dogs that profoundly impact their lives.

She spent a long time as a creative soul trapped in the body of a practical person. When she was bitten by the writing bug, she managed to leap free of the hamster wheel of corporate America, and now spends her days walking her dog, talking to her dog, and listening for the voices in her head that want their stories told. When the voices don’t talk to her, she can often be found staring into the refrigerator.

After growing up in Southern California, Jackie moved to Bermuda, where she met her husband. Now back in San Diego, American Jackie, her Canadian hubby, and her Mexican rescue mutt form their own happy little United Nations. Jackie’s novels include STRAY MAGIC, HOUSE TRAINED, the Readers’ Favorite gold-medal winning RESCUE ME, MAYBE, and WHAT THE DOG ATE.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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ABOUT THE NARRATOR:

AISLING GRAY started doing voice work in 2005 with commercial narration and voice acting, but her love of reading lead her to branch into audiobook narration.

Aisling grew up moving all over the world and has lived in the U.K., Costa Rica, Ghana, Sudan, Jamaica, Peru, the U.S., India, Poland, Azerbaijan, and Mexico — all the while learning languages, so she have a knack for accents.

Listeners have praised her clear, engaging, and versatile narrating as well as her comedic delivery. She loves to bring great writing to life.

To learn more about this Narrator, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

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ACX

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HUNTING THE SATURDAY NIGHT STRANGLER by Author and Ex-Law Enforcement Officer C.M. WENDLEBOE is NOW AVAILABLE and it is one heck of a mystery

Title: HUNTING THE SATURDAY NIGHT STRANGLER

Series: A BITTER WIND MYSTERY (BOOK TWO)

Author: C.M. WENDLEBOE

Genre: FICTION, THRILLERS AND MYSTERIES

Length: 288 PAGES

Publisher: MIDNIGHT INK BOOKS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 1, 2018

ISBN: 9780738753621

Price: $15.99 USD (Paperback)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Two innocent victims, strangled to death on consecutive Saturday nights. Even as they see the pattern emerging, retired detective Arn Anderson and TV reporter Ana Maria Villarreal can’t seem to convince the Cheyenne police that the killer may strike again.

Hunting a remorseless murderer leads Arn and Ana Maria down a rabbit hole of ranchers and rustlers. But the closer they come to catching the killer, the more they’re met with suspicion. And when their investigation collides with a desperate act of violence, they wonder whether they’re unwinding the killer’s twisted thread of clues or tightening their own noose.

MY REVIEW:

This is the second book in the “Bitter Wind Mysteries” Series however, it can easily be read as a standalone novel.

Retired police detective Arn Anderson has moved back to his hometown of Cheyenne, Wyoming to renovate his historic family home that had fallen into disrepair.

Arn has two roommates; one is Ana Maria Villarreal, a television reporter for the local news station, and the second roommate is Danny, a previously homeless man whom Arn has offered room and board in exchange for working on the house renovations.

Arn has been hired by the local ranchers association to try to discover who has been stealing their sheep. Sounds like an easy (and safe) job right? Wrong.

Arn has been unable to discover who is rustling sheep despite staking out numerous fields. Then, the job becomes much more serious when a body is found in one of the fields.

The television station hires Arn to find the killer before local law enforcement does. Seeing visions of central air-conditioning, Arn accepts the job.

What follows is a true whodunit. There are clues, promising leads that go nowhere, and gut feelings that lead everywhere.

Author C.M. Wendleboe’s history as a member of law enforcement shines throughout his writing. I believe that his past gives him a unique perspective on the limitations placed on the police when trying to investigate a crime.

Between the mystery of the identity of the local Sheepherder bandit, the fact that someone might be following Ana Maria and Arn’s gut feelings, it is just a matter of time before he either solves the case or more bodies pile up.

A page-turner with believable and compelling characters, this book will keep you guessing right up until it’s stunning conclusion. Reading this book will immerse readers in the life of a Wyoming rancher and even teach you some things about the use of dogs for herding sheep.

I rate HUNTING THE SATURDAY NIGHT STRANGLER as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

**Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.**

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To read my review of the first book in the BITTER WIND MYSTERY Series, click HERE.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

C.M. WENDELBOE entered the law enforcement profession when he was discharged from the Marines as the Vietnam war was winding down. In the 1970s, his career included assisting federal and tribal law enforcement agencies embroiled in conflicts with American Indian Movement activists in South Dakota.

He moved to Gillette, Wyoming, and found his niche, where he remained a sheriff’s deputy for more than 25 years. In addition, he was a longtime firearms instructor at the local college and within the community.

During his 38-year career in law enforcement he served successful stints as police chief, policy adviser, and other supervisory roles for several agencies. Yet he always has felt most proud of “working the street.”

He was a patrol supervisor when he retired to pursue his true vocation as a fiction writer.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: 

Celebrating ten years of the very best in mystery fiction, Midnight Ink publishes everything from quirky cozies to chilling thrillers.

From the outset, Midnight Ink has been dedicated to sleuthing out and fostering new talent, from their longest standing series by Jess Lourey, Sue Ann Jaffarian and Karen MacInerney to award-winning mysteries by G.M. Malliet and Catriona McPherson.

Prepare to burn the midnight oil with a Midnight Ink mystery.

To learn more about this Publisher, visit the following links:

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THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB by Canadian Author CRAIG DAVIDSON. This book is so good that it deserves more than 5 Stars. Don’t miss this one.

Title: THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB

Author: CRAIG DAVIDSON

Genre: FICTION, LITERARY FICTION, CANLIT, CANADIAN FICTION

Length: 246 PAGES

Publisher: ALFRED A. KNOPF CANADA – A Division of PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE

Received From: THE PUBLISHER

Release Date: AUGUST 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-7482-2 (Hardcover)

Price: $27.00 CDN

Rating: 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

When neurosurgeon Jake Breaker operates, he knows he’s handling more than a patient’s delicate brain tissue – he’s altering their seat of consciousness, their golden vault of memory. And memory, Jake knows, can be a tricky thing.

When growing up in 1980s Niagara Falls (a.k.a. Cataract City) one of Jake’s closest confidantes was his uncle Calvin, a sweet but eccentric misfit enamored of occult artefacts and outlandish conspiracy theories.

The summer Jake turned twelve, Calvin invited him to join the “Saturday Night Ghost Club” – a seemingly light-hearted project to investigate some of Cataract City’s more macabre urban myths.

Over the course of that life-altering summer, Jake slowly and painfully came to realize that his uncle’s preoccupation with chilling legends sprang from something buried so deep in his past that Calvin himself was unaware of it.

MY REVIEW:

The Saturday Night Ghost Club is on the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize shortlist. The Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize recognizes Canadian writers of exceptional talent for the year’s best novel or short story collection. The winner receives $50,000 and all finalists receive $5000.
https://www.writerstrust.com/awards/rogers-writers-trust-fiction-prize

Everything about this book is sheer perfection. From the Hardy Boys inspired cover, to the uneven edging of the pages, to the scenes of Canadiana – such as when twelve year old Jake “… was sitting on the sofa watching The Beachcombers…”

Reading this book is like taking a walk through my own Ontario childhood when children actually played outside, when kids could disappear for hours and explore places that today’s helicopter parents would never dream of allowing their bubble-wrapped kids to go. It was a time when “bullying” was just a part of growing up. You had to either submit to it or learn to fight back.

“Suck it up, Buttercup,” was more likely the parental response to any type of bullying during my childhood and that of Jake Breaker as opposed to what happens now – complaining to the teachers, the Principal, the School Board, and anyone who will listen and likely even posting about it on social media.

It was a time when you would have been mortified if your parents got involved. Kids learned to solve their own problems, or they didn’t and if not, they ended up as perennial victims.

Craig Davidson takes the reader back to a time when imagination was King. A time before internet. You couldn’t just Google information about anything you wanted to know. You asked your parents or if you were as lucky as the protagonist, you asked your “Strange Duck” Uncle.

The way the author describes Uncle Calvin is so vivid and so very detailed that readers are able to picture him vividly, from his height. “He was incredibly tall, or so he seemed back then. (I realize now that, at six foot three, he was not quite the fairytale giant who exists in my memory.) To the way he moved – “He moved awkwardly, as though threads were attached to his limbs, trailing up to a novice puppeteer. He claimed this was the result of his nerves failing to stretch down to his toes and fingertips…” To his teeth, hair and even the clothes he wears. Uncle C becomes as vital and real to the reader as he is to his nephew, Jake.

The tale is told through the memories of a now grown up Jake. He has become a neurosurgeon and tells us the story of one summer when he was a pre-teen. It was a summer in which he still believed in ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night.

I was so wrapped up in this story that the world around me fell away and through the amazing talent of author Craig Davidson, I was transported into the story.

It takes a rare and exceptional talent to make me excited enough about a book that I feel compelled to tell everyone I meet about it. THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB is the best book I have read this year, and I have read many.

The descriptive power of words is on full display in this work of Literary Fiction. For example, read this:

“The girl was eight years old … An MRI revealed a mass lodged near her pineal gland … an aggressive form of cancer manifesting in children. She was booked into surgery immediately. My sucker wand transited the lobes of her brain, moving through sticky webs of glia – brain glue, as it is known in our racket – to arrive at the tumor, which lay anchored in her ocular nerve. The delicate procedure was like vacuuming caramelized sugar off a strand of spaghetti. The slightest misstep would snap the nerve and rob the girl of sight in that eye. I removed as much as felt safe before retreating.”

Comparing author Craig Davidson to other authors would just not be fair. It would be like comparing a CB Radio to a Smart Phone. He is in a class by himself and is sure to win award after award for his writing.

I received a copy of this book from the Publisher and I am thankful to them for introducing me to this author. I need to get my hands on anything and everything else he has written. If those books are even half as good as this one, they are books I absolutely must read.

The rating system for books only goes to 5 Stars, but I believe this book warrants a higher rating, one that distinguishes it from all others, therefore, I rate The Saturday Night Ghost Club as 5+ out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

**This book is also available as an audiobook at http://www.audible.ca Click HERE to purchase it online.

*** Thank you to the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

CRAIG DAVIDSON was born and grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario, near Niagara Falls.

He has published four previous books of literary fiction: Rust and Bone, which was made into an Oscar-nominated feature film of the same name, The Fighter, Sarah Court, and the Scotiabank Giller Prize-nominated Cataract City.

Davidson is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and his articles and journalism have been published in the National Post, Esquire, GQ, The Walrus, and The Washington Post, among other places.

He lives in Toronto, Canada, with his partner and their child.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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WHEN WINTER COMES is a new take on the famous Pioneer story of the Donner party. This Historical Fiction tale will get under your skin – Coming Soon to a Bookstore Near You

Title: WHEN WINTER COMES

Author: V.A. SHANNON

Genre: HISTORICAL FICTION

Length: 304 PAGES

Publisher: KENSINGTON BOOKS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 30, 2018

ISBN: 9781496716507

Price: $15.95 USD / $17.95 CDN

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Mrs. Jacob Klein has a husband, children, and a warm and comfortable home in California. No one—not even her family—knows how she came to be out West thirteen years ago. Jacob, a kind and patient man, has promised not to ask. But if she were to tell her story, she would recount a tale of tragedy, mishaps, and unthinkable choices—yet also sacrifice, courage, and a powerful, unexpected love . . .

1846: On the outskirts of Cincinnati, wagons gather by the hundreds, readying to head west to California. Among the throng is a fifteen-year-old girl eager to escape her abusive family. With just a few stolen dollars to her name, she enlists as helpmate to a married couple with a young daughter. Their group stays optimistic in the face of the journey’s hazards and delays. Then comes a decision that she is powerless to prevent: Instead of following the wagon train’s established route, the Donner Party will take a shortcut over the Sierras, aiming to clear the mountains before the first snows descend.

In the years since that infamous winter, other survivors have sold their accounts for notoriety and money, lurid tales often filled with half-truths or blatant, gory lies. Now, Mrs. Klein must decide whether to keep those bitter memories secret, or risk destroying the life she has endured so much to build . . .

MY REVIEW:

“Hunger is an evil thing, and brings with it the worst of human nature; it is an agony of the flesh, but it is an agony of the spirit as well.”

Most people who have even a passing interest in Pioneer times have heard one or more versions of the story of the Donner party’s trek from Ohio to California which ended in murder and cannibalism. WHEN WINTER COMES is a new fictional version of this true tale.

Told thirteen years after the survivors arrival in California, this tale is written in story form, but as if it were being written in a journal rather than spoken out loud.

Mrs. Jacob Klein was but a young teenager when she set out in 1846 with nothing more than the clothes on her back to join a wagon train heading from her birthplace in Cincinnati to the wonder of a new life in California.

Her husband Jacob has no idea what befell her on her journey and does not try to force her to relive those memories. However, his gift of a beautiful, blank journal prompts her to fill it with the recollections of the very worst time of her life.

“My eyes blur with weariness, and my hand cramps. But my mind will not be still. It pours out memory like a never-ending stream of water that cannot be contained.”

Author V.A. SHANNON writes about the camraderie the members of the wagon train experienced at the start of their journey. As time and hardship start to wear on the pioneers, that early easy camraderie starts to erode.

What happens next is NOT the same as what has been reported and believed for the last 150 years.

Author V.A. Shannon seamlessly leads the reader between the narrator’s journal entries and her present reality.

Not only is this a historic tale of survival, it is also a coming of age story. In fact, it is also a study of humanity and of what people are willing to do, and what lines they will cross, in order to survive.

How far would you go to ensure your survival?

What would you be willing to do to ensure the survival of your spouse? What about for the survival of your children?

Would you allow social conventions and the fear of what others would think of you to dictate your actions? Would you stand your ground when making decisions? Would you defer to others? Would you become a leader or a follower?

Now, imagine that the year is 1846. Modern technology does not exist. There are no official roads. Would you resort to eating human flesh if the choice was between that and death?

With those questions in mind, you now need to pick up a copy of WHEN WINTER COMES. When you finish reading it, come back to my blog amiesbookreviews dot WordPress dot com and let me know what you thought and if after reading it, you have altered your answers to the questions above.

I love it when a book makes me think and when it is written well enough that not only do I feel sympathy towards the characters, but empathy as well. It is for this reason, as well as the simple fact that I enjoyed the story, that I rate WHEN WINTER COMES as 4 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.

QUOTES:

“I have come to think that there are no shortcuts in life. It is too easy to choose to do the selfish thing, and to head off in pursuit of your own happiness and your own ambition, and lose sight of what really matters in this world.”

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“…to take a risk with the happiness of those who love you and depend upon you cannot be heroic.”

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“To my mind, the man who fears the path of love as being one of dull duty, but sets along it nevertheless, is the real hero at the end.”

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“We are practical folks, we Pioneers, and rightly proud of ourselves…”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

V.A. Shannon trained originally as an artist, in the United States, and then requalified as a lawyer in the UK, but her first love has always been writing.

In 2011, she was lucky enough to be accepted on the prestigious Faber Academy novel writing course where she embarked on the first draft of the novel that was ultimately to become When Winter Comes.

She subsequently left the security of full time paid employment to concentrate on her writing, supporting herself by taking on a variety of temporary and part time roles, including working in the cloakroom at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, selling Titanic memorabilia, and cleaning houses!

She has two beautiful daughters and a gorgeous granddaughter, and lives in Welwyn Garden City, just north of London.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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