Guest Post with Liz Flaherty

Please join me in welcoming USA Today bestselling author, Liz Flaherty. I’m delighted to share her guest post on the allure of small towns and old buildings. Be sure to take a look at her latest release, Reinventing Riley, for a second chance seasoned romance read.


Title: Reinventing Riley

Author: Liz Flaherty

Genre: Contemporary Seasoned Romance


He’s afraid a second time at love wouldn’t live up to his first. She’s afraid a second round would be exactly like her first.

Pastor Jake McAlister and businesswoman Riley Winters are in their forties and widowed. Neither is interested in a relationship. They both love Fallen Soldier, the small Pennsylvania town where they met, even though Rye plans to move to Chicago, and Jake sees a change in pastorates not too far down the road. Enjoying a few-weeks friendship is something they both look forward to.

However, there is an indisputable attraction between the green-eyed pastor and the woman with a shining sweep of chestnut hair. Then there’s the Culp, an old downtown building that calls unrelentingly to Rye’s entrepreneurial soul. And when a young man named Griff visits Jake, life changes in the blink of a dark green eye.


Living in Central Indiana among a gathering of small towns, one of the fun things for me about visiting cities is their tall buildings. I find them amazing and exciting. I like craning my neck in search of the sky, eating at restaurants not available in cornfield communities, and walking everywhere.

And then I can’t wait to get home, where the tallest building in all those small towns is three stories, the sky is big and beautiful, and “everybody knows your name.”

But it’s the buildings I’m thinking about today, the ones that hold place of pride on corners or stand in groups in the middle of the block, their facades corniced and bracketed. They’re brick and most of them have had windows and doors and purposes replaced over the years. Many of them have been painted in colors more welcoming than the old brick.

Reinventing Riley is a sweet romance between a rock-and-roll playing pastor and a savvy businesswoman. Their storyshouldn’t have anything to do with buildings, and yet it does. When Rye, who’s just sold a business and has absolutely no interest in buying another one, sees the Culp Building in downtown Fallen Soldier, Pennsylvania, it speaks to her. Like all old buildings, it has stories to tell.

Reluctantly, she listens.


USA Today bestselling author Liz Flaherty started writing in the fourth grade when her Aunt Gladys allowed her to use her portable Royal typewriter. The truth was that her aunt would have let her do anything to get her out of her hair, but the typewriter and the stories it could produce caught on, and Liz never again had a day without a what if… in it.

A long-time newspaper stringer and columnist, she was also an inveterate reader of romantic fiction—one of those who thought I could do that and set about proving she could. Twenty or so books later, she’s happily writing sweet romance with a touch of inspirational. She’s working the Fallen Soldier series for Magnolia Blossom now, still mumbling what if… and drinking a liberal amount of coffee while she figures it out.

She and Duane, her husband of at least forever, live in a farmhouse in central Indiana, sharing grown children, spoiled cats, and their grandkids, the Magnificent Seven. (Don’t get her started on them—you’ll be here all day.) To find out more about her, stop by http://lizflaherty.net/ or sign up for her newsletter at http://eepurl.com/df7dhP.


Website: http://lizflaherty.net/
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/lizkflaherty
Twitter:  Liz Flaherty (@LizFlaherty1) / Twitter
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lizkflaherty/?hl=en
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lizkf/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Liz-Flaherty/e/B001J919R4%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3336348.Liz_Flaherty
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/liz-flaherty






Guest Post with Randy Overbeck

Please join me in welcoming Randy Overbeck. I’m delighted to share this insightful guest post, What We Write Matters. If you’re in the mood for a page turning mystery, be sure to check out Scarlet at Crystal River, the third installment in the popular Haunted Shores Mystery series.


Title: Scarlet at Crystal River

Author: Randy Overbeck

Genre: Mystery


All Darrell Henshaw wanted was to enjoy his honeymoon with his beautiful wife, Erin, in the charming town of Crystal River on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida. Only a pair of ghosts decide to intrude on their celebration. And not just any ghosts, the spirits of two young Latino children. Unwilling at first to derail the honeymoon for yet another ghost hunt, Darrell finally concedes when a painting of the kids comes alive, weeping and pleading for his help.

When he and Erin track down the artist, they discover the children’s family were migrant workers the next county over. But when they travel there, their questions about the kids gets their car shot up and Erin hospitalized. Torn between fear and rage, Darrell must decide how far he will go to get justice for two young children he never even knew.


What We Write Matters

Words still matter. Perhaps, today more than ever.

What we say and what we write carries weight, makes a difference.  A few words from a president can set off alarm bells. A phrase from the fed chairman can make the stock market soar or ignite a selling spree. And it’s not just the words of major players. During the past two years, we’ve learned the hard way that dangerous misinformation shared on social media platforms actually cost lives.

Our words can wound or heal, can obscure or reveal. We’ve learned long ago the saying, Sticks and stones can break out bones, but words can never hurt us, is clearly not true.

Words matter, still.

Another great writer came at this issue from a slightly different angle.

At a recent writers’ conference, I heard the best-selling mystery author, S. J. Rozan, explain to the audience, “Non-fiction is about reality; fiction is about truth. Or at least should be. Truths can sometimes be revealed in fiction far better than in any non-fiction forum.” This incredible insight has stayed with me ever since.

As an author, I ‘d argue that one important purpose of memorable fiction is to share the truths about life, love and sometimes even death.

I’m not naïve. I realize readers don’t choose a mystery or a thriller or even a romance because they are searching for insight or revelation. James Patterson is not a bestselling author because of his philosophical outlook on life.

Fiction lovers are not browsing book shelves in bookstores—okay, checking out Amazon or BookBub listings—because they are searching for the meaning of life. They want to be entertained, to be scared to death, to be drawn in and forget their world, or maybe to fall in love inside the pages of their newest discovery.

But I believe fiction authors have an important responsibility. First, we need to assemble the essential ingredients to capture readers’ attention—a plausible story line (mostly), credible characters, a setting readers can enjoy, and most important, a compelling narrative. But I also believe if we, as authors, are fortunate enough to command our readers’ attention for hours of their precious time, they should come away with more than just solving the mystery, seeing the bad guy captured or even making their heart race. Fiction should convey a truth, sometimes even a truth that can’t be conveyed via nonfiction—at least not as well.

As a classic example of this, I’d like to offer the 70’s TV series “M*A*S*H.” (To be precise, the TV series was a based on a movie, which was based on the book—all of the same name.) For those too young to be familiar with this incredibly popular “comedy” series, either in its original run or in syndication, M*A*S*H was the story of a fictional Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean conflict in the 50’s. (Its final episode had the largest audience for a sitcom episode ever, 125 million viewers!) Although the show was booked as a sit-com—and some of the shows were crazy funny— the episodes laid bare the brutality, horror and senselessness of war. Even though set two decades earlier in Korea, M*A*S*H was a cleverly staged satire on the Vietnam War and war in general. In fact, this fictional show may have done as much to tip public sentiment against the Vietnam War as all the demonstrations and op-eds combined.

Fiction is about truth.

So, as I wrote my novels, I paid special attention to my words…and what I chose to write about. I’m not naïve. I realize readers pick up my Haunted Shores Mysteries looking for puzzling whodunits or perhaps hoping to escape to one of my incredible locations—did you know Cape May has one of the top 10 beaches in America?—or even to experience a little “who-hoo.”

 But my novels are about more than cold case murders, a ghost or two, a thread of romance or even breathtakingly beautiful resorts. I’m also careful to cast my narrative to tell a larger truth. A truth about us, about our society, about how we treat each other.

In the first entry, BLOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE, my hero’s investigation of a young man’s death becomes entangled with the thorny issue of racial injustice. My tale is set two decades earlier but the issue Darrell confronts—discrimination and racial injustice—is still incredibly problematic today on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, as well as much of the country.

In the second novel, CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY, my hero, Darrell is stalked by a young bride seeking justice for her murder, five years earlier. When he looks into her death, he stumbles upon a far greater crime—both in 1999 and still now—the horrific crime of human trafficking. My murder mystery gives me the opportunity to expose the ugly truth about this scourge on human nature.

In the third installment, SCARLET AT CRYSTAL RIVER, I set my sights on an equally compelling social issue, one not very well understood by most Americans. Darrell and his new wife Erin head to the quaint town on Florida’s Gulf coast for a romantic honeymoon, but the ghosts of two murdered children have other plans for him. As Darrell tries to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of two young Latino children, he is thrust in the middle of our “immigrant problem,” as they might say on the news. As I completed my research for this novel, which takes place more than twenty years earlier, I was amazed how little has changed on this issue. As a nation, we’re still struggling today much the same way we were in 2000 with how we deal with “the hungry, the poor, yearning to be free” as is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.

My words in these pages are not intended to persuade anyone. Like my efforts in CRIMSON about human trafficking, in SCARLET I’m hoping my writing may cause readers to pause and want to learn more, this time about the plight of migrant workers—and not simply accept the soundbites about these incredibly important issues on TV or social media.

I hope my fiction portrays truth. I believe that’s an important responsibility. More than success or popularity or fame, I hope my words matter.

“One thing that is particularly special about Overbeck’s books is that they unabashedly tackle social issues within their plots. Already having discussed racism and human trafficking in his first two books, “Scarlet at Crystal River” once again forces readers to confront a particularly pervasive and dangerous social issue. This book, in particular, touches upon the dangers of racism and xenophobia, as well as emphasize the often-ignored plights of the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who are the reason we are able to have such a variety of fruits, vegetables and other resources in our daily lives.”—ReaderViews


Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author and speaker. As an educator, he served children in roles captured in his novels, from teacher and coach
to principal and superintendent. His novels have earned national awards including the Gold Award from Literary Titan, Thriller of the Year from Readers Favorite, Silver Award for Mystery of the Year from ReaderViews and Crown of Excellence from Ind’tale Magazine. Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences. His newest literary project, the podcast, Great Stories about Great Storytellers, exposes the weird and unusual backstories of great storytellers like authors, directors and poets.


Website: http://www.authorrandyoverbeck.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorrandyoverbeck
Twitter:  Randy Overbeck (@OverbeckRandy) / Twitter
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorrandyoverbeck/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Randy-Overbeck/e/B07QQHW7DM?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1658371317&sr=8-1
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4825632.Randy_Overbeck
Podcast: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1924616/10983135



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Christmas in July

Calling all holiday-themed readers! It’s more than evergreens and twinkly lights at N. N. Light’s Book Heaven’s sixth annual Christmas in July Fête. 46 Christmas, Hanukkah and holiday-themed books featured plus a chance to win a $75 Amazon (US or Canada) gift card.

I’m thrilled to be a part of this event! Tinsel and Tea Cakes is featured today. Wait until you read what I love most about the holidays. You won’t want to miss it.



Book in the Spotlight: A Full-Bodied Love, by Amber Cross

Please join me in welcoming author Amber Cross. Today we are spotlighting A Full-Bodied Love. This contemporary romance won The Founders’ Award at Fall in Love With New England reader/writer conference 2021.


Title: A Full-Bodied Love

Author: Amber Cross

Genre: Contemporary Romance


Lisa Kirkpatrick is stubborn, but she’s not stupid. If this guy needs a cover date to
evade an unwanted admirer, who is she to object? It’s not as if handsome men fall
all over themselves to ask her out. Most don’t even see her. Sure, they know
there’s a woman in the wheelchair, but it would never occur to them that there’s
a woman in the wheelchair. He notices. This solid, fun, straight shooting guy ticks
off every box on her ideal man list. But why do they call him Slick?

Roger Plankey didn’t know what he was missing. Health, prosperity, friends, and
family, he thought his life was full until he walked into the town clerk’s office and
laid eyes on the woman behind the counter. A spunky, independent woman with a
dash of humor and just enough sass to keep him on his toes. She fills that unknown
void in his life like she was made for him. But is there such a thing as too perfect?

EXCERPT (First Meeting):

“If you’re running from the law, you’ve come to the wrong place.”

A woman leaning out of the town clerk’s service window pointed to the police
department across the hall. She wore a black felt witch’s hat, and orange pumpkins
dangled from her ears, as brilliant as the smile on her face.

Well, well, well.

“It’s not the cops I need,” he admitted, approaching the window and thrusting his
hand out in greeting. “I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure. Roger Plankey.”

“Lisa Kirkpatrick.”

Her skin was soft against his work-roughened palm, her beautifully manicured
nails a sharp contrast to his blunt-tipped square fingers. Halloween decorations
sparkled on the black-painted ovals, but nothing shone from her left ring finger. He

“Are you new here, Lisa?”

“I’m the deputy clerk. I work when Maisie needs a day off.”

“Ahh, that would explain why we haven’t met before.” Reluctantly, he took his
hand back to retrieve paperwork from the inside pocket of his canvas barn jacket. “I’ve got a bunch of vehicles to register.” He passed the documents through the
window, letting his gaze wander over her pretty face while she scanned them.
Brown hair curled against the brim of her witch’s hat and caressed the nape of her
neck. Thick eyelashes feathered high apple cheeks, and when they lifted, her hazel
eyes reminded him of spring rain on the meadow.


Amber Cross was raised on a family farm in New England, one of a dozen siblings,
each one inspiring her writing in some way. She still lives in that same small town
with her husband and the youngest of their five children. She loves spending time
in the woods, in the water, and watching people because every one of them has a
unique and fascinating story to tell.




Please go to my home page: https://www.amber-cross.com


Guest Post with Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

Please join me in welcoming Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy. I’m delighted to share her guest post on Herman, Missouri and a behind the scenes glimpse into how this story idea was developed. Cozy up for Christmas in July with this festive spin on a new Scrooge in Scrooge and Marlee.


Title: Scrooge And Marlee

Author: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

Genre: Contemporary romance/sweet romance


Theo Scrooge, like the fictional Ebenezer, isn’t fond of Christmas. Any resemblance ends there for the chef and proprietor of Bah Humbug! but his love life is almost nonexistent until he meets a teacher who plans to relocate to the small German flavored town in the Missouri Rhineland. When Marlee falls into the turbulent Missouri River, Theo rescues her. As their relationship grows, so do the obstacles in Theo’s life until his worries about making money and his profit margin overshadow their romance. He’s changed but it’s not an improvement. On the eve of Christmas, Marlee offers him an ultimatum and a copy of Dickens’ book to read. Whether or not Theo will reorganize his priorities will affect if Marlee and their love can both survive.

Scrooge And Marlee is available from World Castle Publishing and most online retailers in eBook format, hardback, paperback, and audio.

Although Christmas does figure into the plot, it is a story for all seasons!


The German Town in Missouri

Tucked away in the hills above the Missouri River as it ambles through the center of the Show-Me State is a small town with a German flavor. Hermann, Missouri was founded by German immigrants. Vineyards surround the city and there are numerous wineries, some within the city limits and more just outside in the surrounding countryside. The original town lies adjacent to the river with architecture that evokes a European flavor. Several restaurants offer up German cuisine and there are multiple festivals, many imported from the old country, each year including Oktoberfest and Maifest.

My latest release, Scrooge And Marlee, is set in Hermann. Because the place is one of my favorites to visit within my home state, I loved the idea of setting one of my novels in the picturesque area.

Like most of my novels, the inspiration began with a “What if?” question. Dickens Christmas Carol is one of my favorite classics and so I wondered what if there was a young man who happened to have the surname Scrooge. I pondered how it would affect him – especially if he had a reason not to like Christmas. As Theo Scrooge came to life in my imagination, I decided he should live in Hermann. Despite the English surname, I gave him a mother and extended family with a German heritage. I also decided that some of the locals would tease him about being Scrooge.

As the story began to build in my mind, I decided Theo was a chef. Although he once wanted to travel the world, he instead returned to his hometown where ten years earlier he opened a little pub/bistro he named Bah Humbug! As the novel begins, Theo is established but he’s also lonely. He’s close to his family and best friend who happens to be the local sheriff but he would like to find a lady to love. A past relationship ended badly and he’s yet to recover.

I also have a partial German heritage so I delighted in Theo cooking German dishes and adding just a little bit of German to the conversations in the novel. Once he meets a schoolteacher who hopes to relocate to the small town, Theo is smitten but he has to save her from drowning in the river before he can meet her.

Their love story isn’t without obstacles and one of the largest is his dislike of all things Christmas. Second to that, he’s preoccupied with making money and that eventually rubs Marlee the wrong way.


Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy grew up in an old blue collar neighborhood in her hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri, the place where the short lived Pony Express began and where outlaw Jesse James met his end. Her love of reading was nurtured by a steady supply of Little Golden Books and books from the neighborhood Washington Park Library. At the age of nine she wrote a poem, her first publication, that appeared in the local newspaper and from then on, she wrote.

When her family relocated to the Ozarks, she discovered a new community in Neosho, home of the real Camp Swampy of Beetle Bailey comic strip fame. After graduating from two colleges with degrees in journalism, English, and history she worked in radio, education, and became a newspaper reporter, then editor.

She met the man she married when she was thirteen and he was fifteen, but she didn’t settle down to married life until her early thirties. They raised three children before her husband passed away in 2019. Her first novel was published in 2010 and she continues to write with a growing backlist of more than thirty titles. Her favorite places include anywhere with beaches or mountains.


Website: https://leeannsontheimer.blogspot.com/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/leeann.sontheimermurphy and https://www.facebook.com/leeannwriter
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/leeannwriter
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/LeeAnnWriter/?hl=en
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/leeannwriter/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy/e/B004JPBM6I?
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4543214.Lee_Ann_Sontheimer_Murphy



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Apple Books


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Smoother Than Spumoni, by Marilyn Barr

I am delighted to share this unbiased review for Smoother Than Spumoni, by Marilyn Barr.


Susie Larkin is a dolphin shifter and heir to the humble Larkin’s Dairy Dip on Seagrass Island, FL. Pedaling ice cream from bicycle carts on the beach is just a stepping-stone for this future CEO of a frozen confection empire—or so she hopes.

Frank Paulino Jr. receives his first taste of freedom from Strawberry, KY in a summer internship at Bart’s Oyster bar. His pasta creations save the restaurant when red tide poisons the fresh fish of the bay, making him the most popular werewolf on Seagrass island.

Frank and Susie uncover a conspiracy that threatens not only the wildlife of the area, but also their lives. Can these two shifters put their ambitions aside long enough to give their relationship a chance, or will Frank pay the ultimate price to protect Susie and the island she loves?




  • I loved that my first dive into a world of shifters broadened my list of enjoyable genres.
  • I loved how Susie’s experience transforming from human to dolphin and back again leapt off the page.
  • I loved the small town, Florida beach setting. This was a perfect read to welcome summer.
  • I loved how the author’s vivid details bring this world to life. The descriptions of food will leave readers craving a long list of menu items.
  • I loved how the author evoked both the thrill and sweetness of first love. Readers can expect more than tagging along with Susie as she navigates decisions, danger, and dreams. The excitement and uncertainty of being a young adult comes flooding in as we experience Susie’s journey through her eyes.
  • I loved that Susie puts her future first. She is a strong heroine with goals and wants a partner in life to share achievements with.
  • I loved the bit of mystery interjected into the storyline.
  • I loved that this book is part of the Strawberry Shifters series. Readers will definitely want to revisit these characters and their world.


Smoother Than Spumoni is an enjoyable story that will drop readers into a world of shifters and young love. Although this was the perfect book to kick off my summer reading list, the story will please readers year-round. Vivid details bring this small town, Florida beach setting to life. The descriptions of food will leave readers craving a long list of menu items.

The author expertly evokes both the thrill and sweetness of first love. Readers can expect more than tagging along with Susie as she navigates decisions, danger, and dreams. The excitement and uncertainty of being a young adult comes flooding in as we experience Susie’s journey through her eyes.

Susie is a strong heroine with goals and wants a partner in life to share achievements with. The bit of mystery interjected into the storyline is an added bonus. I’m so glad this story is part of the Strawberry Shifters series. Readers will definitely want to revisit these characters and their world.


Book in the Spotlight: Bridges, by Linda Griffin

Please join me in welcoming Linda Griffin. Today we are spotlighting Bridges. I’m always excited to welcome a fellow Scrabble enthusiast! More importantly, I’m sold on the book blurb. Get ready to add to your TBR pile.


Title: Bridges

Author: Linda Griffin

Genre: Sweet Romance


In 1963, Neil Vincent, a middle-aged World War II veteran and “Christian atheist,” is working at Westfield Court as a chauffeur. He likes the peace and quiet after his military career and the abundant free time, which he spends mostly indulging his passion for books. He is in an ongoing casual relationship, but not interested in a commitment.

Mary Claire DeWinter is a young, blind Catholic college student who comes to Westfield Court when her grandfather is dying. To her shock, he leaves the entire estate to her, but to secure the inheritance, she has to marry within a year. Her domineering aunt pressures her to marry a rich man who teased and bullied her when she was a child.

Neil and Mary Claire are divided by age, status, and religion, but they begin an innocent friendship based on a shared love of books and ideas. Neil wants to help her chart her own path, even though he will be out of a job if she doesn’t marry. Can they maintain their friendship and perhaps cross the bridge to more?


Linda Griffin is a native of San Diego and has a BA in English from San Diego State University and an MLS from UCLA. As soon as she learned to read, she knew she wanted to be a “book maker” and wrote her first story, “Judy and the Fairies,” at the age of six. She retired as fiction librarian for the San Diego Public Library in order to spend more time on her writing. Her stories have been published in numerous journals including, EclecticaThema Literary ReviewThe Binnacle, and most recently The Adirondack Review. Bridges is her fifth novel from the Wild Rose Press, after four romantic suspense titles, Seventeen Days (2018), The Rebound Effect (2019), Guilty Knowledge (2020), and Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking (2021). In addition to the three R’s—reading, writing, and research—she enjoys movies, Scrabble, and travel.


Blog: https://www.lindagriffinauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lindagriffin.author

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lindagriffinauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindaGriffinA


Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09QXQJFNT

Barnes&Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bridges-joy-griffin/1102348389

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/bridges/id1606565402


Book in the Spotlight: Hidden Gem: The Secret of St. Augustine, by M.S. Spencer

Please join me in welcoming M.S. Spencer. Today we are spotlighting Hidden Gem: The Secret of St. Augustine.


Title: Hidden Gem: The Secret of St. Augustine

Author: M. S. Spencer

Genre: Cozy Mystery/Romantic Suspense


Barnaby and Philo’s story begins with very bad chili and a dead body.

Barnaby is in St. Augustine, Florida, to teach a college seminar, and plans to use The Secret—a treasure hunt book—as a framework for his class. He enlists Philo Brice, owner of an antique map store, to aid him in seeking clues in the historic sites of the ancient city.

Together they face murderers, thieves, thugs, and fanatics, heightening their already strong attraction to each other. Can they solve the puzzle and unearth the treasure before the villains do? Philo and Barnaby pursue several twisting paths and false leads before arriving at a startling conclusion.


Librarian, anthropologist, Congressional aide, speechwriter—M. S. Spencer has traveled the globe. She has published fifteen romantic suspense or murder mystery novels, with two more on the way. She has two fabulous grown children and an incredible granddaughter. She divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.


Blog: https://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/msspencermysteries

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/M.S.-Spencer/e/B002ZOEUC8/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/msspencerauthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/msspencer

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/msspencerauthor/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/m-s-spencer


Books2Read: https://books2read.com/u/mZZ2Ry https://books2read.com/Hidden-Gem-The-Secret-of-St-Augustine

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Gem-Secret-St-Augustine-ebook/dp/B09QJHCB4V

Barnes&Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hidden-gem-m-s-spencer/1140893266   /BIN ID: 2940161144589

ITunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/hidden-gem-the-secret-of-st-augustine/id1605417704

Rakuten/KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/hidden-gem-the-secret-of-st-augustine

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=g25mEAAAQBAJ

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/hidden-gem-the-secret-of/9781509240364-item.html

Angus & Robertson: https://www.angusrobertson.com.au/books/hidden-gem-m-s-spencer/p/9781509240357


Author Interview with Josephine Strand for Misty Dreams

Please join me in welcoming author Josephine Strand. Misty Dreams is a perfect pick for readers of sweet romance.


Title: Misty Dreams

Author: Josephine Strand

Genre: Sweet Romance


As a child, she filled his void. As a woman, she completed him.”

Clare has lived on St. Isabel Island all her life, except for a few months she can’t recall. A traumatic childhood experience has left a blank spot in her memory and a lingering feeling of having lost more than just a small, painful piece of her past. When the enigmatic Dr. Richard Kelly shows up on her island, she feels whole for the first time. Yet she’s certain the man is a stranger to her, until she discovers he’s been hiding something from her, a secret that reawakens her childhood fears and threatens to upset her life again.

Richard Kelly’s hard-earned career as a world-renowned neurosurgeon has been derailed by his ex-wife’s unspeakable betrayal. His entire life is on a downward spiral. In a desperate attempt to outrun his demons, he sets off to a remote island in the South to trace the origins of an anonymous painting. He doesn’t expect to come face to face with the girl he once knew as Misty, and he’s instantly captivated by her genuine charm. But if the charismatic kindergarten teacher of the secret lagoon is the Misty of his past, why doesn’t she remember him?

Misty Dreams is a heartwarming love story about second chances and the healing power of new beginnings.


What was the inspiration behind your latest release? 

The idea for the story came from a series I wrote in my late twenties. In between caring for my daughter and helping my husband in his business, I wrote several novellas set in a vacation resort on a tropical island. It was superficial, frivolous stuff that will never see the light of day. I had grown to love two of my characters so much, Clare and Richard, I wanted them to have their own standalone story. What laid the groundwork for the plot was probably my deep-seated regret for not having been blessed with a sister. In Misty Dreams, Clare’s sister plays a key role in the mystery the story revolves around.

Where do you get your ideas? 

The books I read are the inspiration for my stories. I’ve been an avid reader since I was a child, and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write.  When I’m experiencing the dreaded writer’s block, reading a good book will get me back in the mood.

Have you ever traveled when researching information for a book? 

When it comes to research, I’m mostly a couch surfer, though I draw inspiration from my actual travels. Ever since I was a little girl I have loved traveling to new places. I believe traveling and living in different parts of the world have helped shape me as a person and as a writer and impacted the way I see the world.

When did you begin writing? 

I don’t remember not ever writing. As a little girl I loved writing essays for English class. One of the first fiction pieces I wrote was in elementary school, a fantasy short story on book characters coming to life in the school library when the clock struck midnight.

What has been your biggest challenge? 

My biggest challenge has been English not being my first language. Although I read a lot of English books, using the English lexicon in my writing doesn’t come easy to me. I worked on Misty Dreams for several years before I felt comfortable enough to send it out into the world.

What does literary success mean to you?

Literary success to me doesn’t mean monetary reward. That would be nice, of course, but just knowing people are reading my book gives me a great sense of fulfilment. Having doubted for so many years my ability to write for other people’s enjoyment, I still have trouble believing I can and did.

What writing tips or marketing advice would you like to share

The most important advice I would give new or aspiring writers is, don’t let your insecurities get in the way of your writing. Don’t let self-doubt and lack of self-confidence hold you back. Spend time learning the fundamentals of writing and becoming more competent in your own abilities. On the marketing front, I would advise to start setting up social media platforms well ahead of a book launch to start building an audience. I was never a fan of social media, and the thought of putting myself out there for the whole world to see was terrifying. Today, I regret not having had the foresight to do that.  

Which authors inspire you?

Nicholas Sparks is a long-time favorite, and the one I draw the most inspiration from. Despite his obsession for serious subject matters and less-than-happy endings, he writes books that impact me on an emotional level and that stay embedded in my memory. I’m also a big fan of Jojo Moyes since reading “Me Before You”, for the humor and warmth she infuses in her books.

What project are you currently working on? 

I’m currently working on a second stand-alone novel. For a while I toyed with the idea of a Misty Dreams sequel, but I struggled to find inspiration. Not being a fan of romance series, I decided to write the story I wanted to read.


Josephine Strand was born in Italy, grew up in South Africa, and is a long-time resident of the United States. She discovered her love of books when she was introduced to her town’s public library at the age of eight. At nine, she gained her English teacher’s praise with her short story The Library at Midnight. She hasn’t stopped writing since, though Misty Dreams is her first published novel. Her travels between the three continents have strengthened her love for the sea and the outdoors. When not writing or absorbed in the latest gripping page-turner, she loves to cook and enjoys long nature walks.


Website: https://josephinestrand.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jstrandauthor

Twitter: Josephine_S (@J_Strand05) / Twitter

Instagram: Josephine Strand (@authorjstrand) • Instagram photos and videos

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B091TVT7CY

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21359855.Josephine_Strand

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/misty-dreams-by-josephine-strand


Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B091SQBM69/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/misty-dreams-josephine-strand/1139379206?ean=9780578900926



Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Misty-Dreams-Audiobook/B09NLBKMM4



Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/audiobook/misty-dreams-unabridged/id1600564273


Book in the Spotlight: Deception Pass, by Norm Harris

Please join me in welcoming author Norm Harris. Today we are spotlighting Deception Pass, Book 3 in the Spider Green Mystery Thriller Series.


Title: Deception Pass (Spider Green Mystery Thriller Series Book 3)

Author: Norm Harris

Genre: Legal Military Mystery Thriller and Time Travel


A girl travels back in time to that never never land of spies and samovars. To the land of bears, bombs, babushkas, and borscht. To the land where anything can happen and often does. An American ship on course in the Pacific experiences an event unlike anything that any ship, anywhere, has ever undergone.

Faydra “Spider” Green has had a storied career as a Navy lawyer, all while juggling being the daughter of a former U.S. president. She has successfully navigated intricate diplomatic situations, pulse-pounding legal investigations, and dangerous military missions, managing each time to save the day. But now a man who had nearly cost Fay her life has seemingly returned from the dead. Now, hellbent on revenge, he poses a threat to Fay and national security. Fay will have to go to extraordinary lengths to stop him, even tampering with the bounds of time and space.


She considered shutting the cell off. A message could be left. Yet, she was curious why her cell had service deep inside the hull of the Green to begin with. She glanced at the screen. It had to be urgent, and Jon never called. He only showed up unannounced in her bedroom when he felt the need to talk.

Fay spoke up. “Gentlemen, I have an urgent call. Can we take five?”

Admiral Cartright said, “Let’s take five, everyone.”

Fay said to JP, “It’s Jon Shaman. Come with.”

The two women rose and exited the room.

JP said, “What’s up?”

“I don’t know,” Fay replied. “Jon has something he said I need to see.”

“This is the same Jon who has little use for anything technology, unless it’s spy stuff related?” JP asked.

The ladies found an out-of-the-way spot in the passageway.

Fay called Jon back. “Jon!” she said in greeting. “This is unusual for you! What’s up, man?”

“Faydra, I want you to see this,” he replied. A photo of the upper torso of a woman was then displayed on her cell screen.

It took several seconds for it to register in her mind. “Jon… it’s me?” Fay guessed. “Well, it looks like me posing as Faye King. What is this?”

“A woman found dead yesterday in New York City.”


Except for time spent in military service I live in the Pacific Northwest with my legal-beagle son K-K. and seven large tropical fish from the Amazon River. I am a second-generation Seattleite (that’s what they call those of us who dwell in the shadow of Mr. Rainier). I have had the opportunity to travel our planet many times over. My stories are created from my memories of my personal experiences, the places I have visited, and the people and friends I have known.


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/norm.harris.3386

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Norman-A.-Harris/e/B002BOH4R0?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60133705-deception-pass-spider-green-mystery-thriller-series?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=HK3ZIHzAxe&rank=8


Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Deception-Spider-Green-Mystery-Thriller-ebook/dp/B09Q1XVRNR/ref=sr_1_5?crid=10DCQZ24NJ329&keywords=deception+pass&qid=1644172760&s=digital-text&sprefix=deception+pass%2Cdigital-text%2C64&sr=1-5


Author Interview with Wendy Rich Stetson for Hometown

Please join me in welcoming author Wendy Rich Stetson. Look no further than Hometown for a delightful, sweet romance.


Title: Hometown

Author: Wendy Rich Stetson

Genre: Sweet Romance


When Tessa’s big-city plans take the A Train to disaster, she lands in her sleepy hometown, smack in the middle of the most unlikely love triangle ever to hit Pennsylvania’s Amish Country.

Hot-shot Dr. Richard Bruce is bound to Green Ridge by loyalty that runs deep. Deeper still is Jonas Rishel’s tie to the land and his family’s Amish community. Behind the wheel of a 1979 camper van, Tessa idles at a fork in the road. Will she cruise the superhighway to the future? Or take a slow trot to the past and a mysterious society she never dreamed she’d glimpse from the inside?


What was the inspiration behind your latest release? 

Just out of acting school and twiddling my thumbs while I waited for the phone to ring, I saw an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show featuring romance writers.  “I could do that,” I thought, every bit as naïve as I was to think a starring role on Broadway would land on my doorstep, wrapped in shiny paper and tied with a satin bow.  Still, inspired by those Oprah writers with the often-heard advice to “write what I knew” I came up with a simple premise: what would happen if a girl moved back to her hometown and fell in love with an Amish guy.  Twenty years and endless edits later, Hometown is now in the hands of readers.

Do ideas for plot or characters appear first? 

Perhaps stemming from my work as an actor, I get most of my inspiration from situations.  Actors often use the phrase “what if” to connect to our roles and approach our acting work in a truthful, emotionally-centered way.  What if I was a young, headstrong woman in the time of the American Revolution, looking to find a husband among the hotheaded revolutionaries in New York City?  What if my uncle killed my father and married my mother…how would I feel and behave?  When I begin a book, I don’t think, “I know—I’ll write about a tall girl with curly red hair and impossibly high standards in men.”  I think, “What if I moved back to my hometown in central Pennsylvania and met a drop-dead handsome Amish guy at the farmer’s market?” and I let the story spring from there.  I like getting characters in trouble–that’s where the good stuff lies.

Have you ever traveled when researching information for a book? 

Since my hometown provided the inspiration for my book series, I didn’t have far to travel.  But I still did oodles of research.  I take the responsibility of writing about another culture very seriously.  When I first started working on Hometown, my only resources were books and the observations I made from interacting with the Amish in my town.  Now, many online sources offer details about all aspects of Amish life.  I have read many books, watched videos, read blogs, and written to other authors of Amish fiction for help.  It’s extremely important to me that I represent Amish life and culture as accurately and respectfully as I can, while also depicting the Amish as real people, not costumed characters.

When did you begin writing? 

I can’t remember when I didn’t write.  When I was a girl, I wrote fantasy stories, and as a teenager, I was an obsessive diarist.

How many hours do you dedicate each day towards writing? 

As a freelancer, my days are never the same. Sometimes I write 45 minutes, and sometimes I get a good four or five hours of writing before my brain turns to mush.

What has been your biggest challenge? 

Social media.  It can be such a great way to connect with other authors and readers, but it sure can be a time suck as well.

What does literary success mean to you?

A few weeks ago I sent a paperback copy of my book to a high school friend.  We had been in touch off and on over the years, but after chatting one day on Facebook, I asked if she liked sweet romance.  She said yes, and I just stuck a copy in the mail for old times’ sake.  A week or so later, she messaged that she had spent the whole day at the hospital while her husband had neck surgery, and that my book really helped her get through the rough tasks of waiting and caregiving.  That, to me, is the pinnacle of literary success.

What writing tips or marketing advice would you like to share

Write the story you want to read.  Don’t set out to please some ideal reader you’ve imagined in your head.  Tell a tale that thrills and delights you, and you’ll find no end of inspiration.

Which authors inspire you?

Diana Gabaldon is a tremendous inspiration.  Her depth of character, emotion, and detailed research make me drool.  Amish romance writers Kelly Irvin and Patricia Johns are not only wonderful people, but lovely writers.  And indy romcom writer Ellyn Oaksmith could teach a master class in comedy.

What project are you currently working on? 

I’m so excited to be working on the second book in the Hearts of the Ridge Series, Heartsong Hills.  Jonas Rishel, the Amish carpenter who is the hero of Hometown, has a sister who in book one is angry and bitter after suffering great loss in her life. Book two places her in the spotlight, giving her a story full of music, whimsy, and unlikely love.


Wendy Rich Stetson is a New York City girl who still considers the Central Pennsylvania countryside to be her home.  She grew up road tripping in a 1979 VW camper van, and she keeps a running list of favorite roadside attractions from coast to coast.  Now an author of sweet, small-town romance, Wendy is no stranger to storytelling.  She’s a Broadway and television actress, an audiobook narrator, and a mom who likes nothing more than collaborating on children’s books with her teenage artist daughter.  Wendy lives in Upper Manhattan with her family of three and rambunctious Maine Coon kitty.  Follow Wendy’s journey at www.wendyrichstetson.com


Website: http://wendyrichstetson.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WendyRichStetsonRomance

Twitter: https://twitter.com/StetsonRiches

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wendyrichstetson_author/?hl=en

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/wendy_stetson/_saved/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Rich-Stetson/e/B097QBJZCC/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58504083-hometown?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=Svcjev2iMD&rank=1


Amazon  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B097NVNFDF/

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Universal Book Link https://books2read.com/u/4Xr70g


Book in the Spotlight, Peculiar Activities by Mark Edward Jones

Please join me in welcoming author Mark Edward Jones. Peculiar Activities looks like a great option for anyone looking for a new mystery to read.


Title: Peculiar Activities

Author: Mark Edward Jones

Genre: Mystery


Henry Ike Pierce is a junior detective in Alexandria, Virginia, newly hired to reassess cold-case killings. On the third day of his new job, a body appears in a local park. The corpse’s desecration is like slayings from over two decades ago, and his boss assigns Henry to his first investigation. He must uncover the present-day killer while his boss pushes him to resolve crimes from the past. Rumors point to a killer called ‘the hooded one.’ 

Henry seeks a killer within a community of rival ethnic groups, refugees from the 1990s Balkan wars. The recent murder in the park triggers the old passions, leading again to central Europe and a tangle of new intrigue. Money can smooth old hurts, manipulate feelings, and alter allegiances, but finding the guilty is a hopeless task if discoveries are unwelcome.

Distrust, betrayals, conspiracies–the young man from western Virginia’s coal country discovers that ‘trust’ has a flexible definition.


Mark retired in 2017 after thirty-three years working in higher education finance and wanted to try writing again. The Wild Rose Press released Peculiar Activities on October 6, 2021, the first book in the Detective Henry Ike Pierce series. This manuscript won first place in the mystery category of the 2019 Oklahoma Writers Federation annual contest.

He signed a contract for the second in this series called Shadowed Souls, currently in an editing phase with a release date in the late summer of 2022.

Mark is one of thirteen authors bringing together thirteen mystery/suspense/horror stories for a Friday the 13th series to be released on May 13, 2022. Mark’s short story is A Gentleman from the Darkness.

His flash fiction piece called “Alone in Warsaw” was published in the Autumn 2019 edition of the U.K. publication, Painted Words.

Mark grew up in Duncan, Oklahoma, then attended the University of Oklahoma, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science and public administration.

He and his wife have three grown children and celebrated their fortieth anniversary in November 2021.

Mystery/suspense/international intrigue novels are his favorite reads, and he’s found a niche with medieval murder mysteries, noting it’s interesting to see the lifestyles from other eras and how crimes were solved.

His favorite music includes Elvis, Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Boz Scaggs (among many others).


Website: https://mejbooksllc.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mejbooksllc/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mejbooksllc

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/markjones_author/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/mejbooksllc/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mark-Edward-Jones/e/B08PW43DZ1?ref=nav_ya_signin&qid=1621518619&sr=8-1&

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16577227.Mark_Edward_Jones




Guest Post with Steven J. Kolbe, Author of How Everything Turns Away

Please join me in welcoming author Steven J. Kolbe. Steven is joining us today to share some insight on choosing the murder victim for a mystery novel. Be sure to check out his new release, How Everything Turns Away.


Title: How Everything Turns Away

Author: Steven J. Kolbe

Genre: Mystery


In the suburbs of Chicago, everyone’s a suspect.

GUEST POST: How to Make a Murder Victim

It can be easy to short-change the murder victim. For a forensic-leaning writer, the victim can become just a body covered in clues. For a crime writer, the victim might be someone in the wrong place at the wrong time. The genre I find myself most drawn to is the straight-forward detective story with a healthy splash of suspense. Even this genre, however, is ripe for weak victims, ones who provide a dose of sympathy or a solid motive but not much else. So let’s look at a few classic victims and see what tips we can glean.

The Hated Victim: Samuel Edward Ratchett (aka Cassetti) from Murder on the Orient Express. Here is a book I love to teach because you really get to see how wrong almost every reader is. What makes Ratchett a great victim is that he’s a jerk. As more is revealed, we find out that not only do the other passengers dislike and distrust Ratchett, they increasingly have legitimate reasons to wish him dead. This creates numerous valid murder suspects, enough to keep this reader guessing until the last reveal. A contemporary example that I am enjoying is The Afterparty streaming now on Apple TV. Also, see The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.

The Guilty Victim: Everyone from And Then There Were None. This might be the greatest mystery novel of all time. Again Agatha Christie flexes her plot-muscles by weaving a series of murders so intricate they literally require a denouement explanation to understand what happened and why.

Plot: After eight guests arrive to a remote island, they meet a cook and housemaid, both of whom explain that the host, U. N. Nowen, will arrive later. One of the guests, Anthony James Marston suggests that the host, whom none of them know personally, is likely a play on the word, “Unknown.” Immediately after making this connection, he dies of cyanide poisoning. Slowly, the guests are picked off one by one, their deaths apparent payback for some crime in their past—but who is the killer? Will the guests be able to figure out who the killer before there’s no one left? Some contemporary examples are The Guest List by Lucy Foley and Only Murders in the Building on Hulu.

The Secret Victim: Elias Openshaw from “The Five Orange Pips” by Sir Conan Arthur Doyle. Secret societies, or at the very least mysterious, manipulative ones, were a favorite of Doyle’s. Here Openshaw is murdered for his involvement with an anti-Reconstructionist society from the American South. After he leaves, the secret society falls to ruin. I’ll let you learn about it yourself and the significance of the five orange pips, which hold meaning to the victim but not, initially, to the detectives. Doyle has a similar treatment of the early Mormon church in A Study in Scarlet. Contemporary examples include The Lovebirds, a romantic-comedy mystery that takes place in New Orleans. Also see the novels, The Feral Detective by Jonathan Lethem and, somewhat less contemporary, The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon.

The Innocent Victim: The Clutter Family from In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. As a resident of southwest Kansas (I actually teach about a mile from the Clutter house at the high school Nancy Clutter attended), I had to include this family. In real-life, sometimes a victim is just that. They didn’t do anything to explain or deserve their fate. While this is often the case, it doesn’t always make for a satisfying story. If there’s only one motive for killing them, then there can only be so many suspects. In the real-life case, Bobby Rupp, Nancy’s boyfriend, was suspected for some time, but once exonerated, he didn’t leave anyone else in the community to suspect—and in fact the killers weren’t locals. If you spend the time to make them sufficiently sympathetic, however, the resolution can be particularly satisfying. A contemporary example is Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara, which investigates rampant crime and deplorable living conditions in the bastis of India. Also see Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the F.B.I.by David Grann.

This is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully it can help you get started on creating a victim of your own!


Steven studied at NOCCA and LSU in Louisiana before earning his undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from Kansas State University. He started his writing career as a lowly student worker for the prestigious literary journal The Southern Review. If you received a formal rejection letter in the mid-2000s, he probably sealed the envelope. He has published fiction, poetry, and nonfiction in various newspapers, magazines, and journals since that time.

He lives in Southwest Kansas with his wife and three children. His debut novel How Everything Turns Away is available from The Wild Rose Press.


Website: www.stevenjkolbe.com

Twitter: @KolbeSteven

Instagram: @stevenjkolbe

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Steven-J.-Kolbe/e/B098R29ML8?ref=dbs_m_mng_rwt_byln

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21665172.Steven_J_Kolbe


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Book in the Spotlight: A Gem of a Murder, by Mariah Lynne

Please join me in welcoming author Mariah Lynne. A Gem of a Murder is in the spotlight today!


Title: A Gem of A Murder –A Seabliss Island Mystery

Author: Mariah Lynne

Genre: Cozy mystery with a touch of the paranormal


A sleepy Florida Gulf Coast Beach town suddenly comes alive as two best friends, local merchant Mariah Linley and island psychic Moonbeam find themselves in the middle of some pretty strange business after Mariah discovers their friend, a local sea captain, dead.

 As events begin to unfold, the two novice sleuths are drawn into a web of murder, deception, and drugs that stretches as far west as Mexico and as far south as the Keys.

Loaded with unique characters doing surprising things, A Gem of a Murder is a cozy mystery that is set in 1986 and laced with a little romance. With a backdrop of stunning locations, A Gem of a Murder will take you on a memorable vacation without ever leaving home!

So grab your sunscreen and park that imaginary lounge chair in the sand under some swaying palm trees, but all the while, watch your back. There’s a murderer on the loose!


I was born in New Jersey. My father was an Italian immigrant who taught Latin and Classical Italian at a small local college before opening his own business, an independent print shop. My mother loved to help people and volunteered at our church and with charitable groups. She was a talented lace maker and loved to crochet and knit; her father, also from Italy, was a custom furrier and tailor for some of the most affluent residents of our community. Unfortunately I didn’t inherit any of those wonderful talents since I’m not fluent in a foreign language and am barely able to sew on a button but one thing I did inherit from my parents especially my father was the love of a good story. feel-good stories of dreams, family, and romance.

I am a graduate of Syracuse University and reside on a beautiful Southwest Florida Gulf Coast island. My island lifestyle serves as the backdrop for all of my stories whether romance or cozy mystery. Before writing fiction, I owned and operated a video store on the island like my character Mariah Linley and became very active in my national trade association meeting many movie stars and famous athletes. Although brief, these encounters made for some amazing memories.

I love to write and create memorable characters. Pets are my passion and I served on the board of directors for a county wide no-kill shelter. Because of this, all of my heroines have pets like Spike, Mariah’s German shepherd crossed with a teddy bear in “A Gem of a Murder.” When not writing, I still enjoy watching movies, travelling (even though we were stranded in beautiful Australia for eight days during March of 2020 because of the pandemic), swimming, and spending time with my husband Jerry.  


Website: https://mariahlynne.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MariahLynneAuthor

Pinterest: Mariah Lynne (mariahlynneauthor) – Profile | Pinterest

Twitter: @MariahLynn1

Blog: https://mariahlynneauthor.blogspot.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6526631.Mariah_Lynne?from_search=true&from_srp=true



Read a few chapters FREE: Amazon


Book in the Spotlight: Let it Melt, by Margot Johnson

Please join me in welcoming author Margot Johnson. Let it Melt is an excellent choice for readers looking for a new, sweet romance to cozy up with.


Title: Let it Melt

Author: Margot Johnson

Genre: Sweet contemporary romance


How on earth did Jill, a single divorcee, land on a romantic Valentine’s Sweetheart Tour for couples? Worse, she’s paired with Jack, her daughter’s brash father-in-law, and everyone thinks he’s her valentine. Stranded in a Canadian prairie blizzard, how soon can she kiss this awkward evening goodbye?

Long divorced, Jack would love to charm Jill with his toned body and dynamic personality, but his wisecracks and obsession with fitness get in the way—especially when he nabs a post at the same school where she teaches.

Even the most romantic month of the year can’t melt their differences and sweeten Jill’s feelings….or can it?


Margot Johnson writes feel-good stories of dreams, family, and romance.

She is the author of two sweet romance novels, LOVE TAKES FLIGHT and LOVE LEADS THE WAY, and two novellas, LET IT SNOWBALL and LET IT MELT. Her characters can’t possibly find their happy endings…or can they?

Before turning her focus to the fun writing life, Margot held leadership roles in human resources and communications. Her motto is “Dream big and work hard.”

When not writing, she loves to connect with family and friends, volunteer with SK Writers Guild, and walk at least 10,000 steps a day (except when it’s minus 40!)

Margot lives in the Canadian prairies with her amazing husband and adorable golden retriever.


Website: margotjohnson.ca

Facebook: MargotJohnsonAuthor

Twitter: @AuthorMargot



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Author Interview with Jennifer Wilck for Unlock My Heart

Please join me in welcoming author Jennifer Wilck. Unlock My Heart is a perfect for read for anyone looking for a new contemporary romance.


Title: Unlock My Heart

Author: Jennifer Wilck

Genre: Contemporary romance


Abby Marlow, computer security expert, lands a job at the best IT security firm in the country. Her sole focus is financial independence so she never has to rely on others again, especially a man. But why does her boss make her wires short circuit?

Ted Endicott, CEO and founder of the IT security firm, is hard of hearing. Although an expert in his field, he’s still uncomfortable admitting his difficulty hearing to his clients or employees. So why is he willing to accept Abby’s help?

As Ted and Abby work together, barriers fall away, and soon the lines blur between colleagues and lovers. But a security glitch in a client’s system indicates one of his employees is the hacker, and all signs point to Abby. Can they get past the suspicion and find a future together? 


What was the inspiration behind your latest release? 

This is the second book in my Scarred Hearts series, although each can be read as a standalone. I’m a big fan of the wounded hero trope. The inspiration for the series came from having coffee with one of my author friends. We were discussing ideas for future books as we were lamenting the scary/crazy/depressing world news. I always try to write books where the reader can escape, and I started thinking about how to change what was going on around me. What if a billionaire used his wealth for good? What if he joined forces with his friends from college to do so? What if they all had secrets they hid from the world? And so, the idea for the series was born: Four college buddies have found financial success and risen to the top of their fields in media, architecture, landscape architecture and computer security. All of the men are damaged in some way—physically, psychologically, emotionally—and all of them have resigned themselves to a life focused solely on their careers. Yet something is missing and they seek fulfillment their careers can’t give them. They pool their extra money and form CAST, an investment group to help the less fortunate. They support coding for kids, therapy gardens, senior living facilities and shelters for abused kids. And then they meet the women who draw them out of their shells, challenge them and turn their worlds upside down. For this specific book, I wanted to create a hard-of-hearing hero who hid his difficulties from everyone—except the heroine, of course. And I wanted a strong, intelligent heroine, so I made her a talented computer programmer who rose from the depths of poverty to make a career for herself.

Where do you get your ideas?

Well, other than coffee with my author friends, I find them everywhere. Sometimes I’ll see a character on a TV show or in a movie that inspires me, or whom I want to flesh out and take in a different direction. Other times a piece of conversation or a scene will come into my head while I take my dog for a walk or while I’m falling asleep at night.

Do ideas for plot or characters appear first? 

Characters usually appear first for me. Whether it’s their black moment or a conversation or just a type of person I want to write about, that’s what I usually see first. Then I create the plot around them.

When did you begin writing? 

I’ve written forever and always had partial stories written. But I began seriously writing when my kids were little, in 2006 or so.

How many hours do you dedicate each day towards writing? 

It varies. I try to get about 1,000 words a day, but life happens and inspiration ebbs and flows, so I’m not always successful.

What has been your biggest challenge? 

Currently, I’m fighting with my muse for inspiration, which is very frustrating. But I’m persistent and I’m determined to win.

What writing tips or marketing advice would you like to share

Writing is a muscle, so use it regularly. Marketing is essential, but you can’t do everything. So pick one thing you’re good at or comfortable with and do it regularly. Once you’ve mastered that one thing, add in a second thing.

What project are you currently working on? 

I’m currently working on the third book in the Scarred Hearts series, A Heart Restrained. It’s about the third friend in this friend group, a media mogul who is afraid to show emotion. He’s a big, bald, tatted guy and I’m having so much fun with him.


Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Pretty soon, her head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Even as an adult, she thinks about the characters and stories at night before she falls asleep or walking the dog. Eventually, she started writing them down. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after.

In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and does not believe in sharing her chocolate.

Jennifer Wilck is an award-winning contemporary romance author for readers who are passionate about love, laughter, and happily ever after. Known for writing both Jewish and non-Jewish romances, her books feature damaged heroes, sassy and independent heroines, witty banter and hot chemistry. Jennifer’s ability to transport the reader into the scene, create characters the reader will fall in love with, and evoke a roller coaster of emotions, will hook you from the first page. You can find her books at all major online retailers in a variety of formats.


Website: : http://www.jenniferwilck.com

Facebook: : https://www.facebook.com/groups/879114386079365

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JWilck

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorjenniferwilck/

Pinterest: : https://pin.it/7FplFjL

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Wilck/e/B005BT260M

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5032661.Jennifer_Wilck




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Universal Link



Book in the Spotlight: A Trifling Murder, by Jo A. Hiestand

Please join me in welcoming author Jo A. Hiestand. If you’re looking for a delightful cozy mystery, A Trifling Murder is a perfect pick.


Title: A Trifling Murder

Author: Jo A. Hiestand

Genre: Cozy crime mystery


The annual Robert Burns Birthday Dinner celebration is underway in the small Missouri town of Beaudin Trace. Guests gather to honor Scotland’s national poet with bagpipes and haggis and a trifle for dessert. But everything isn’t as smooth as Scotch whisky. The Society’s president and vice-president have a very public haggle over the haggis. And less than an hour later, one of them is found dead.

And found by Kate Dunbar, owner of The Cookie Cutter Bakery. It wouldn’t be too bad except the victim was murdered with her knife.

Gossip hints she is the killer. The majority of her customers must agree, for her bakery sales fall drastically. If she is to keep the business from crumbling, she needs to investigate.

But sleuthing is harder and more dangerous to Kate and those around her than she thought. Luckily, she gets help from the town’s zany songwriter and his Scottie dog. Murder is no trifling matter.


Jo A. Hiestand grew up on regular doses of music, books, and Girl Scout camping. She gravitated toward writing in her post-high school years and finally did something sensible about it, graduating from Webster University with a BA degree in English and departmental honors. She writes two British mystery series—of which three books have garnered the prestigious N.N. Light’s Book Heaven ‘Best Mystery Novel’ three years straight. She also writes a Missouri-based mystery series (of which “A Trifling Murder” is the second book) that is grounded in places associated with her camping haunts. The camping is a thing of the past, for the most part, but the music stayed with her in the form of playing guitar and harpsichord, and singing in a folk group. Jo carves jack o’ lanterns badly; sings loudly; and loves barbecue sauce and ice cream (separately, not together), kilts (especially if men wear them), clouds and stormy skies, and the music of G.F. Handel. You can usually find her pulling mystery plots out of scenery—whether from photographs or the real thing.


Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jo-a-hiestand

Book Gems: https://bookgems.com/profile/mclgirl1/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jo.hiestand.3

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AnglophileJo

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/joahiestand

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/JoHiestand

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoHiestand

Website: http://www.johiestand.com

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/MysteryAuthorinSTL


Trade Paper – Amazon: https://amzn.to/3Itqgwb

Ebook – Amazon: https://amzn.to/3fMlLAD

B&N: https://bit.ly/3fLZjHW

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3rG5H9d

iTunes: https://apple.co/3IyJh0i


Book in the Spotlight: Arid Sea, by Norm Harris

Please join me in welcoming author Norm Harris. Be sure to check out Arid Sea if you’re looking for a new mystery thriller.


Title: Arid Sea (Spider Green Mystery Thriller Series Book 2)

Author: Norm Harris

Genre: Mystery Thriller-Legal/Military/Psychological


Help me! I am a girl lost and alone. I do not know who I am or where I am. Please find me.

When the woman awoke, she did not know much. She knew her head hurt and her body ached. She knew there was blood streaking the side of her face, obscuring her vision. She knew the sun was beating down on her, hot and ruthless. But she did not know how she had gotten here, in this sandy, desert hell. She did not know where her injuries had come from. Most importantly, she did not know who she was.


In five minutes, her sister would be gator chow. She looked back to the spot where she had last seen Pearce. Her sister was swimming for all she was worth, with the gator hot on her heels. Pearce was a good swimmer. As Fay watched her sister make a valiant attempt to stay ahead of the gator, she recalled an observation Charles Darwin, the evolutionist, had once made: “He who hesitates is… lunch.” Fay grabbed the remaining speargun and prepared to swim to her sister’s aid. Just as she was about to leap from the boat, she spotted a shark. A giant bull shark hovered about three feet back and about five feet below the boat’s stern. Pearce was heading directly away from the gator’s jaws into those of the waiting bull shark. Were these two creatures working this area together? The gator herded Pearce toward Jaws Junior, and fish and reptile would split the profits? Out of the frying pan and into the fire, as they said – or in this case, out of the fire and into the inferno. Fay needed to think fast. She pointed the speargun at the shark. After shoving the gun into the water, she fired. She must have hit the fish, as the speargun ripped from her hands and disappeared into the water. This was not a good move on her part. Now there was an angry alligator, a wounded bull shark, and a blood trail in the water.


Except for time spent in military service I live in the Pacific Northwest with my legal-beagle son K-K. and seven large tropical fish from the Amazon River. I am a second-generation Seattleite (that’s what they call those of us who dwell in the shadow of Mr. Rainier). I have had the opportunity to travel our planet many times over. My stories are created from my memories of my personal experiences, the places I have visited, and the people and friends I have known.


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/norm.harris.3386

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Norman-A.-Harris/e/B002BOH4R0?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60133494-arid-sea?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=8MUo5amdGY&rank=1


Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09N8QWTF5/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i1


A Rose by Any Other Name, by Alana Lorens

Congratulations to Alana Lorens on her new release, “A Rose by Any Other Name.” Please join me in getting to know Alana and learning more about her book.


Contemporary romance, high school reunion, second chance romance


Up-and-coming mommyblogger and single mom Marisol Herrera Slade returns to her old hometown in western Pennsylvania for her 20th high school reunion in 2005, reluctant and yet compelled to see her high school sweetheart, Russell Asher, who dumped her for the homecoming queen.

Russell’s marriage to the golden girl, however, ended in a nasty divorce, and he has been systematically excluded from his sons’ lives. In his Internet wanderings, he’s found feminist blogger named Jerrika Jones, who glorifies single motherhood, essentially putting a stamp of approval on what’s happened to him. His group of single dad advocates have vowed to take this woman down.

What Russell doesn’t know, when he thinks to rekindle what he had with Marisol, is that Marisol and Jerrika are one and the same. When his group discovers the truth, will their drive for revenge derail any chance the couple have to reunite? Or will they find they have more in common than they ever expected?

Q & A with Alana Lorens

Have you ever traveled while researching information for a book?

I’ve made a couple of road trips cross-country in a motorhome, visiting Montana and California to gather information for both my romance novels and fantasy work.

When did you begin writing?

I wrote my first story when I was eight. It was a tragic tale of how my cat killed and ate a rabbit. Then I wrote my first novel—a horrible time travel Gothic story—when I was 14. I actually submitted it to Doubleday! And I got a personal rejection letter from the editor, very kind.

How many hours do you dedicate each day toward writing?

Most days I do an hour or two; but my critique group meets Thursday and Saturday evenings for several hours, one for critique and one for writing together and inspiration. I get a lot of work done those nights.

What has been your biggest challenge?

In the last few years, I’ve been diagnosed with several chronic diseases, which make energy sometimes few and far between. With the whole rounded experience of author life—not only writing, but promotion and marketing and editing, etc., it is a strain to get all of it done on a timely basis.

What does literary success mean to you?

Gee, we’d love to have all the big bucks, right? But the likelihood of that hitting is about the same as winning the lottery. So I’d be pleased to have people simply read and enjoy my work—especially if they’d let me know!

What project are you currently working on?

A suspense novel where a woman lawyer wakes up in the Everglades next to a burned car with a dead body inside; and she can’t remember how she got there, and what happened. The story revolves around her life situation and dysfunctionality of herself and her family. I put a lot of myself into this character, and I’m really proud of it.

About the Author

Alana Lorens has been a published writer for more than forty years, after working as a pizza maker, a floral designer, a journalist and a family law attorney. Currently a resident of Asheville, North Carolina, the aging hippie loves her time in the smoky blue mountains. She writes romance and suspense as Alana Lorens, and sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal mystery as Lyndi Alexander. One of her novellas, THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE, is set in the city of Asheville during the old Bele Chere festival. She lives with her daughter on the autism spectrum, who is the youngest of her seven children, and she is ruled by three crotchety old cats, and six kittens of various ages.

Author Links

Website       http://Alana-lorens.com

Facebook    https://www.facebook.com/AlanaLorens/

Goodreads   https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4829967.Alana_Lorens

Amazon Author Page  https://www.amazon.com/Alana-Lorens/e/B005GE0WBC/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/alana-lorens

Twitter:  @AlexanderLyndi

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alexander_lyndi/ 

Purchase Links: Ebooks

– https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09KQWTDPF/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i3

Paperback  https://www.amazon.com/Rose-Any-Other-Name/dp/1509239294/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=



Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox, by L.B. Griffin

Please join me in welcoming L.B. Griffin sharing details about her new release. Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox is a historical romance filled with mystery and suspense.


When Harriet Laws loses her grandmother and her job, her happy life in London seems over. Alone, grief-stricken and penniless, she thinks wildly about ending it all. Fate steps in as Tom Fletcher saves her, gives her hope, and guides her to new employment. He takes her to dinner, and she finds him attractive. He’s older, but she doesn’t mind. Does he? Tom, a quiet, hardworking man, is unsure of Harriet’s feelings, but he’s also very busy building his business interests. So it’s no wonder a suave, sophisticated man walks off with Harriet right under Tom’s nose. What follows, no one could have predicted, as Harriet not only loses contact with all her friends but must again fight for her very life…will she ever see Tom again?

Purchase Links



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Q&A with D.B. Griffin

What was the inspiration behind your latest release?

It is my debut novel, but the inspiration was to show just how courageous women can be and are in the face of adversity and come out strong.  Those people I write about are inspirational.

Where do you get your ideas? Do ideas for plot or characters appear first?

Great question, though I’m not sure I can give you a straight answer. For my debut novel the plot was definitely first, followed swiftly by the characters. In all my books I’ve found there is a running theme. Courage and survival. You see, over the years I’ve been in an amazing position to teach and work with wonderful groups of people. I’ve been on the front line listening to their stories and they have taught me so much, it has been a truly humbling experience. Knowledge is key to writing plots and knowing your characters. My stories are a fusion of everything I have ever learned. 

Have you ever traveled when researching information for a book?

Yes. For example I’ve been to London numerous times, but recently revisited, and took my granddaughter to see it through her eyes. That was a fab experience.  

When did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing for years, though never had the confidence to send any of my work until a friend said “you better get it out there before you pop your clogs mate!” That was a bit of a wakeup call. After considering her words I thought did I really want my epitaph to read shoulda woulda coulda?

How many hours do you dedicate each day toward writing?

Phew, that is a hard one. Some days I can write for hours. Other times I just get twenty minutes or so drive in me as I can be pulled in many directions. It was different when I wrote around the full time paid job. I really had to be more organized. I often left the house toothbrush in hand, flinging on shoes but with my brain still typing on the keyboard but having to rush to get to work!

What has been your biggest challenge?

I guess you are asking me in relation to writing, so I have to answer honestly – 1. Being brave enough to send it to a publishers. I am incredibly shy, though no-one would believe it and marketing myself was a huge struggle, still is.

What does literary success mean to you?

When I got my novel published and held it in my hands. Goodness. That was really strange. To see copies are being sold in Waterstones and available all over the world. I can’t believe how many copies have been sold to date! I know I’m not in the same genre pool as the big names, but I do have to pinch myself from time to time, amazed at the fab reviews. I really never believed it would happen.

What marketing tips or advice would you like to share?

I write a blog, for budding writers. It’s lovely to hear from so many people. I love it when they say they found a post really helpful. It gives me a bit of a happy buzz so I carry on.

Marketing, as every writer knows, is really hard. Unless I guess you are in JK Rowling’s league, and can afford to pay for all that stuff. I don’t believe in wasting money on marketing in the huge sense. After all it would wipe out any royalties I might get, so I ask myself what the point is. From everything I have learned from the great bunch of TWRP authors, there doesn’t seem to be one ad, or promo place that makes you money (if that is what you are after). For me I’m happy with my lot. Just getting my book read is fantastic and payment enough. Don’t give up on your dream, if a gran can, so can you!

Which authors inspire you?

Hmm. I read so much it would be hard to put my finger on just one author. Roald Dahl is one for sure. Palahniuk, Kesey, Steinbeck.

What project are you currently working on?

I have two projects on the go. The Twenty One Year Contract, follows on from Secrets, Shame and a Shoebox. They are intertwined but also standalones. The other project is strictly confidential at the moment.  

Upcoming books, events, appearances, giveaweays?

Kindle version of Secrets, Shame and a Shoebox has been reduced for the holiday season. I hope that people will find it more affordable, say as a stocking filler or to download for friends and family, who love a good read. Iceland’s tradition of sitting with family on Christmas Eve reading, sounds like an excellent one!

About the Author

LB Griffin is happily married and retired and still has plans to trek around the world. When she returned from Spain, Covid raised its ugly head and sadly changed people’s lives forever. However, it was then a whole new chapter in her life was born. She was offered a contract for her debut novel and the day after, had another wonderful surprise, the safe arrival of her fifth grandchild.

LB Griffin loves her family, writing, reading a good book, being with friends and British strawberries.

Social Media

Website: https://www.wifeinthewest.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lynngriffinauthoruk/

Twitter: @LBGriffinAuthor

Facebook @lynngriffinauthor


French Ghost, by Corinne LaBalme

Thank you to Corinne LaBalme for an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.


Ghost-writer Melody Layne is stranded in Paris when the over-sexed but unloved French movie star who hired her to produce his memoir accidentally drowns before the interviews begin. It’s a major financial relief when his enigmatic Spanish son re-hires her, but the seductive Carlos Ortega is strangely silent about his reasons for funding a feel-good bio about a father that he clearly despised. There’s enough amour in the air for Melody to ignore this apparent paradox… at least until she uncovers a hidden cache of death threats addressed to the actor. For the French police, the sexy, secretive Spaniard – and sole heir to the actor’s immense fortune – is suddenly a prime murder suspect. Can Melody’s research into the Ghosts of Carlos-Past be enough to save her lover from prison?



Barnes and Noble


  • The cozy mystery genre might be my favorite, and this book did not disappoint. I loved everything about it.
  • I loved that I was hooked immediately and didn’t need to wait several pages or chapters to feel fully invested in the story.
  • I loved that this was one of those stories that kept me turning pages long after I should have shut off the lights. Every scene and every chapter left me feeling like I had to know what happened next.
  • I loved the author’s talent for dropping me right into the heart of France and French culture. I was completely transported. The sights, sounds, smells, and food were crafted so vividly that I almost felt as if I were sitting in little cafes with Melody Layne and munching away on a croque monsieur or pain au chocolat.
  • I loved that the author created 3D characters – characters that I liked and cared about.
  • I loved feeling like I had a bird’s eye view into the glittering world of French stars.
  • I loved that this cozy mystery read almost like a romance as well. I was as invested in seeing what happened with Melody and Carlos as I was in finding out what happened to the deceased French movie star.
  • I loved that as the book ended, I wanted to read more by Corinne LaBalme. Finding a new favorite author is always a treat!


French Ghost was a thoroughly engaging and delightful read from start to finish. Readers should prepare to be hooked from the beginning and expect to find it a challenge to stop turning pages. The author drops the reader into the heart of France and French culture. The sights, sounds, smells, and food were crafted so vividly that readers will feel transported to find themselves sitting in little cafes with Melody Layne, munching away on a croque monsieur or pain au chocolat. The author offers a bird’s eye view into the glittering world of French stars and creates fully developed 3D characters that leap off the page. This cozy mystery reads almost like a romance as well. Following Melody’s relationship and Carlos is as enjoyable as trying to determine what happened to the deceased French movie star. If you’re looking for a new favorite author, look no further than Corinne LaBalme.


Corinne LaBalme lives in France and loves everything about it… except eating snails. Her articles about European fashion, food and fun destinations have appeared in The New York Times Travel section, Diversion, La Belle France and France Revisited. Her favorite place to write? Any Parisian café with a good croissant connection…  




Holiday Romances

Please join me in welcoming Alicia Dean. Today, I am spotlighting two of Alicia’s holiday romances perfect for the season. Each book is only 99 cents!!!

A Knight Before Christmas


The last thing Heath King wants is to return to Kansas City for the holidays. Being in his home town holds too many bad memories, and now there are new bad memories in the making, among them a sister he never knew about–proof that his father was unfaithful. But the most difficult thing he’ll face is running into Nicolette, his best friend’s widow—the woman he’s loved since the day he met her.

Before Nicolette Morgan has time to fully grieve over her husband’s death, a blackmailer enters the picture, demanding she pay him or he’ll ruin the lives of everyone she loves. Nicolette sees no way out until she unexpectedly encounters Heath King. When she turns to him for help, old feelings are rekindled and she realizes she never stopped wanting him.

As Christmas approaches, Heath must find a way to stop the blackmailer…but can he also rescue the love he lost fifteen years ago?


She smiled, but her eyes didn’t join in. For the first time, Heath noticed something not quite right about her. It was more than just the weight loss. In the places where her body touched his, he detected a slight tremble. Her voice was overly bright, and her eyes held a look of desperation, of fear. The signs were all subtle. Had he not known her for fifteen years, he might have missed them. She seemed on edge. Fragile. Like the wrong move, the wrong word, might cause her to shatter.

She maneuvered him into an alcove and once there, released him. He tried not to think about how much better it had felt with her warmth touching him.

“How long are you in town?” she asked.

“I’m here until Christmas day. I’ll be heading out that afternoon.”

“You have to leave on Christmas?”

He nodded. “I’m bidding a big job, and the client wants to meet on Christmas evening.”

“Who would want to work on Christmas if they didn’t have to?”

“Someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. He’s a Jehovah’s witness.”

“Ah. I see. To him, it’s just another day.”


Nicolette seemed at a loss for what to say next. She glanced around the room, then back up at him, a worried frown tugging at her brow. He reached out and took her hands in his. They felt like she’d been ice fishing without a pole.

“Is everything okay?” he asked quietly.

She smiled, but it was small and forced. “Of course. I mean, I miss Rudy like crazy, but other than that, everything’s fine. Why?”

Heath searched her eyes, noting a hint of fear before she let her lashes fall over them. “You seem upset, distracted, maybe a little scared.”

“Scared?” Her laugh was as forced as her smile. “What do I have to be scared of in a room full of people?”

He moved his hands up her arms and felt a shudder run through her body. Something was definitely not right. He made his voice hard, authoritative, and tightened his grip. “I don’t know, Nicolette, why don’t you tell me?”

Buy here:


The Twelfth Day


As a teen, party girl, Sabrina Spencer was the lone survivor of a serial killer’s attack on her family. Her testimony put the killer behind bars, and she spent the following decade carving out a new life and trying to forget. But someone hasn’t forgotten. Two weeks before Christmas, she begins receiving bizarre messages with demented references to the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Handyman Josh Cravens is remodeling the lake house she rents each year to escape the painful reminders Christmas brings. While his dimples and blue eyes are hard to resist, he’s the exact kind of player she’s been avoiding since she outgrew her wild days. But the isolated cabin and threatening messages boost her paranoia to fever pitch.

As Christmas draws closer, she’s torn between finding comfort in Josh’s arms, and fear that he might be behind the twisted countdown to the twelfth day.

Buy here:


Author Bio:

Alicia Dean is a suspense and paranormal author in Edmond, Oklahoma. She wrote her first romance at age 10 (featuring a hero who looked just like Elvis Presley), and she still has the tattered, pencil-written copy. In addition to reading and writing, Alicia loves watching and re-watching her favorite television shows, among them Dexter, Justified, The Vampire Diaries, Ozark, Friends, Seinfeld, and Everybody Loves Raymond.  

Email: Alicia@AliciaDean.com

Website: http://aliciadean.com/

Blog: http://aliciadean.com/alicias-blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAliciaDean/

Twitter: @Alicia_Dean_

Instagram: AliciaDeanAuthor

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/alicia-dean


Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/468339.Alicia_Dean


Shortbread Shakedown, by Sofia Aves

Congratulations to Sofia Aves on her new release, “Shortbread Shakedown.” This holiday romance is part of the Christmas Cookies Series published by The Wild Rose Press.


Exchanging gunfire is easier than facing reintegration at Christmas alone.
A package determined to derail his scheduled future delivered by a mystery woman. A tiny note hints at who she is—and how to find her.

When veteran and acting Brigadier General Dominic Cage returns from deployment days before Christmas, he’s unprepared for the shortbread cookies pressed into his hands in a case of mistaken identity by a stunning woman. Unable to forget her, Cage trusts Violet’s promise of a true Christmas—until the lines of his reality blur.

Damaged and resolute, and unable to escape the gunfire that haunts him, Cage’s choice could cost them everything.

Buy Link


Author Website

Follow Sofia on Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/sofia-aves?follw=true
Join her newsletter and get a free Aussie cop romance here: https://BookHip.com/CNMQFX


Author Interview with Susie Black

I’m delighted to share my interview with Susie Black and details for her new release “Death by Sample Size”. As a bit of a clotheshorse, I loved hearing the inspiration behind the first in this mystery series. Be sure to check out the complimentary swimsuit fit guide following the interview.

Book title: Death by Sample Size
Genre: Cozy Mystery

What was the inspiration behind your latest release? Who could push a sales exec to dream of murder and mayhem? Who else but a buyer? After completing a rather challenging conversation with an important, but difficult account, I imagined how good it would feel with my hands around her scrawny neck, squeezing the life out of her. While the notion of knocking off my annoying customers was wildly appealing, a horizontally striped prison uniform making my four-foot, nine-inch body look like a barbershop pole and a fire hydrant had a child wasn’t a pretty sight. The viable alternative?  Writing humorous murder mysteries set in the Los Angeles garment center. Brilliant and cathartic! In one fell swoop, eliminate a pain- in- the- patootie buyer, avoid life in prison and still get the order. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Where do you get your ideas?  Like the protagonist in my Holly Swimsuit murder mystery series, I am a ladies’ apparel sales exec. From the start of my career, I have kept a daily journal that chronicles the quirky, interesting, and often challenging people I’ve encountered as well as the crazy situations I’ve gotten myself into and out of. The journal entries are the foundation of my research and all my writing. The most critically important skill a successful sales exec must have is to be a good storyteller. Fortunately, I’ve been telling stories since I learned how to talk. Since I’d never written a novel before, the only thing I knew to do was to apply the same story-telling skills I’d successfully used hawking bikinis to writing a tale. So, where did my story ideas come from? My mother didn’t raise stupid children. I paid attention to the mantra. Write what you know. With a dollop of imagination, a pinch of angst, and a decades-long career chocked to the gills with juicy characters, I had more stories itching to be told in my daily journal than time to write them. Do ideas for plot or characters appear first? Since I am a people person, characters always appear first. All of my characters are based on real people I’ve encountered during the course of my career, with my take on them and some poetic license, of course.

Have you ever travelled when researching information for a book? Yes. I have traveled to New York City as well as day trips into downtown Los Angeles to the Apparel Mart as well as to garment factories.

When did you begin writing? I’ve been writing for a long time. I wrote my first short story when I was in elementary school.

How many hours do you dedicate each day towards writing? I try to write something every day, but I don’t have a set writing schedule or dedicate X number of hours daily to it.

What has been your biggest challenge? Marketing.

What does literary success mean to you? When a readers says they can’t wait until my next book will be out.

What writing tips or marketing advice would you like to share? Writing tips: Keep writing, no matter what, keep writing. Trust your gut, believe in yourself, never let anyone crush your dream, and never stop asking what if? Marketing advice: Be selective about what type of marketing you do and do what you like and what you believe in. If you don’t see the point to Twitter, don’t do it as you won’t be effective trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Don’t try to do everything or you will do nothing well.

Which authors inspire you? The late, great Joan Hess, The late, great Anne George, Nancy J. Cohen, The late, great Donald E. Westlake, Carl Hiaasen

What project are you currently working on? Book number two in the series is ready for querying. Book number three is back from the Beta readers and revisions are being worked on now.

Upcoming books: Book two will publish sometime in 2022 events & appearances: I have made a presentation to the Palm Valley Country Club Book Club, I will be a guest on the Novel Talk Podcast


“The last thing swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected was to discover ruthless buying office big wig Bunny Frank’s corpse trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey with a bikini stuffed down her throat. When Holly’s colleague is arrested for Bunny’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth jumps into action to find the real killer.  Nothing turns out the way Holly thinks it will as she matches wits with a wily killer hellbent on revenge.”

Buy Link

BARNES & NOBLE: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/death-by-sample-size-susie-black/1139356591

Google Play:


I Tunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/death-by-sample-size/id1564686461

kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=Death+by+Sample+Size

TARGET.COM: https://www.target.com/s?searchTerm=Death+by+Sample+Size

Death By Sample Size : Target

Author Bio

Born in the Big Apple, Susie Black now calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries. She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect. 

Social Media Links

Facebook: https://facebook.com/TheHollySwimsuitMysterySeries

Twitter: http://twitter.com/hollyswimsuit

Instagram: Susie Black (@hollyswimsuit) • Instagram photos and videos

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/hollysusie1_saved/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Death-Sample-Size-Hilarious-Whodunit-ebook/dp/B093F24T3F/ Goodreads: Holly Schwartz – The United States (1 book) | Goodreads

Link to Holly’s Swimsuit Fit Guide



New Release: The Gingerbread Cookie Code, by Ann M. Trader

Congratulations to Ann M. Trader on her new release, “The Gingerbread Cookie Code.” This holiday romance is part of the Christmas Cookies Series published by The Wild Rose Press.


Computer geeks write code… and sometimes they bake them in gingerbread.

Clay Blackstone, avowed bachelor, is an ambitious computer design engineer at a prestigious firm. When an accident puts his dad on crutches, he returns home to help with his family’s Christmas tree farm, never expecting to find romantic entanglement with an alluring woman he remembers as a tomboy in braids.

As a single mother launching a bakery business, Shelby Turner has experience with measuring cups and watercolor paints, but not handsome, intriguing men—especially one who is her secret schoolgirl crush.

Between her sweet treats, his tech savvy, and their combined chemistry, will they risk their hearts and discover the code to their happily ever after?

Buy Link

Release date: 11/16/21 https://books2read.com/u/bzdMyj

Author Bio

Ann makes her home in North Carolina and is a member of Romance Writers of America and Heart of Carolina Romance Writers. A book-lover at heart, she writes contemporary and historical romances with The Wild Rose Press. 

She’s a fan of TV dramas (in no special order: Stranger Things, The Last Kingdom, Outlander, Poldark, Yellowstone, Outer Banks, and Peaky Blinders), all kinds of romance books, and Southern comfort food.

Social Media Links

Website: www.annmtrader.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annmtraderbooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/anntrader5
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/ann-m-trader
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21925238.Ann_M_Trader


Book Review: The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder

Thank you to Marla White for an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.


After injuring herself on the job as a Los Angeles cop, Mel O’Rourke leaves the force battered both physically and mentally. Looking for a fresh start, she moves to a quiet mountain town and opens the Babbling Brook Inn. Excited for her new life, Mel decides to participate in the town’s holiday cookie contest, but her newfound joy crashes when one of her guests turns up dead in her lobby.

Mel is tempted to attribute the death to natural causes, but when another guest dies, her cop sense kicks in. The local Sheriff tells her to stand down, but with her own life in danger, Mel won’t back off. With everything on the line, she has to push through her own fears to catch the killer before more bodies drop, perhaps even her own.




  • I love a good cozy mystery any time of year. The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder is the cozy mystery to add to your reading list this holiday season. However, I also felt that this book wasn’t limited to the holidays. It truly is a cozy to be enjoyed year round.
  • I loved that the twists and turns prevented me from figuring out the murderer’s identity. This, of course, is what keeps a reader turning pages.
  • I loved the setting of the story. The Babbling Brook Inn introduced a variety of eclectic characters. Each was unique, engaging, and leapt off the page.
  • I loved that this book read like it belonged on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries – always a plus for me!
  • I loved that Mel wasn’t a damsel in distress.
  • I loved the touch of a love triangle. With two men vying for her attention, Mel O’Rourke might have a decision to make in a future installment. I can only hope that this is just the beginning for more mysteries requiring Mel’s sleuthing skills.


The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder is the perfect cozy mystery to add to your reading list this holiday season. Rest assured, this delightful story is an enjoyable read any time of year. The twists and turns will keep you guessing until the end. The eclectic cast of characters in and around the Babbling Brook Inn leap off the page with their individual and engaging personalities. Mel O’Rourke is no damsel in distress, but she does find herself in the middle of a potential love triangle. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is only the first in a series of future cozies and hope to follow Mel along on her journey.


Marla White started her illustrious career as a storyteller at the age of four by drawing on the TV screen to help Winky Dink get out of mortal danger, earning her a firm spanking.  Deterred by the negative feedback, she studied to be a park ranger instead until she realized it was really a TV show about park rangers she liked, not the actual outdoors.  She enjoys a career in television as well as teaching story workshops at UCLA Extension.

Appropriately, she found out on April Fool’s Day she’d sold her first book, “The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder” to Wild Rose Press.






Book Review: Latkes for Santa Claus, by Janie Emaus

Thank you to Janie Emaus for an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.


To: Santa
From: Anna

My new dad and stepbrother celebrate Christmas, so you’re coming to my house for the very first time. And I think you must be REALLY tired of cookies. I’m going to leave you the best Santa treat ever.

Anna is excited that Santa will be visiting her house for the first time, and she wants to leave Santa a treat that blends the holidays her new family celebrates: Christmas and Hanukkah.

She expresses this idea to her stepbrother, Michael, who insists that Santa doesn’t need anything but his sugar cookies. Anna imagines Santa has to be bored with cookies by now and is determined to find a Jewish recipe that he’ll enjoy. The catch? It has to be something easy for Santa to grab and go.

It can’t be matzo ball soup—soup in a sleigh with galloping reindeer will never do.

It can’t be noodle kugel—imagine that by the handful. What a mess!

And as certain as Anna is that Santa would devour tzimmes, she knows he just doesn’t have the time to sit and enjoy a hearty stew on Christmas Eve.

Anna retreats to her thinking corner to figure out the perfect finger food for Santa, not wanting to disappoint him on his very first visit to her house.

In this humorous and endearing picture book, blending both Christmas and Hannukah, a little girl and her stepbrother compete to leave Santa the best treats ever.

Latkes for Santa Claus concludes with Anna and Michael’s winning recipes, ready for children to replicate for Santa in their own kitchens.




  • I loved the story idea blending Christmas and Hanukkah together. The characters enjoy the best of both holidays.
  • I loved the anticipation of sharing this book with family, friends, and students. I personally know many children who celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah and am excited this engaging book was written to honor the traditions of both holidays.
  • I loved the fun pacing of the story as it followed the friendly competition of Anna and Michael.
  • I loved the illustrations. The vibrant colors and character expressions bring the story to life.
  • I loved that this book could, or should, be a holiday special on TV.
  • I loved that the story ended by sharing two recipes that I look forward to trying this holiday season.


Latkes for Santa Claus is the perfect children’s book to kick off the holiday season. This adorable story follows Anna’s competition with her new stepbrother as they both strive for the best treats to leave for Santa Claus. Anna is celebrating Christmas for the first time and introduces Michael to a variety of Hanukkah dishes. The author perfectly captures the spirit and traditions of both holidays. The pacing of events reads like the next animated, holiday special. Illustrations are beautiful and engaging. I look forward to sharing this book with family, friends, and students. The two delicious recipes are a delightful bonus.


Janie Emaus is an author/blogger. LATKES FOR SANTA CLAUS is her debut picture book. EASTER EGGS AND MATZO BALLS, another blended holiday story will be released in 2023. Her time travel romance, THE TIME TRAVELING MATCHMAKERS is forthcoming in 2022 from Wild Rose Press. In addition, her essays and short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and websites. To learn more about Janie, visit her website at www. Janieemaus.com









New Release Alert: Red Velvet Crinkles and Christmas Sprinkles, By Maria Imbalzano

Congratulations to Maria Imbalzano on her new release, “Red Velvet Crinkles and Christmas Sprinkles.” This holiday romance is part of the Christmas Cookies Series published by The Wild Rose Press.


Competitive, work-obsessed Bella Simonetti has just been fired from her high-paying job at a Manhattan law firm. At an all-time low, she returns home and helps her parents at their small-town gift shop, but the business is failing and may not make it past the Christmas holidays.

Successful landscape architect Dean Jackson is like a son to Bella’s parents. But he’s a persistent annoyance to her—he seems to have forgotten his unforgivable blunder thirteen years earlier.

When Bella transforms her parents’ gift shop into a cookie cottage, Dean’s generosity and magnetic smile are hard to resist, and those feelings of unrequited adolescent love come rushing back. But can Bella let go of the past and accept Dean for the man he is today?

Book Quote

Dean’s gaze zeroed in on her, and her thoughts fuzzed. No way was she going to get out of this chair, sporting flannel pajamas and bunny slippers.

Buy Link


Author Website



New Release Alert: Cookie Collision, by Darlene Deluca

Congratulations to Darlene Deluca on her new release, “Cookie Collison.” This holiday romance is part of the Christmas Cookies Series published by The Wild Rose Press.

House calls and Christmas cookies . . . a sweet combination or recipe for disaster?


Before she can let up and enjoy some holiday cheer, real estate agent Alana Drake has work to do. With Christmas moving in fast, she has clients to meet with, houses to show, and cookies to bake. Every open house deserves her special touch—homemade and hand-decorated sugar cookies for a warm welcome. And she needs several dozen for upcoming holiday events and open houses

But a poorly timed stop at the grocery store could upend more than her bag of groceries. Running into Doctor Justin Teague—literally—shakes up Alana’s tidy world. The chance encounter leaves her with a bum ankle, forces her to reconsider some dating ideals, and reveals new information about a longtime nemesis.

When all she wanted was to bake some cookies…

Buy Link


Author Website



New Release Alert: Let it Snowball, by Margot Johnson

Congratulations to Margot Johnson on her new release, “Let it Snowball.” This holiday romance is part of the Christmas Cookies Series published by The Wild Rose Press.


Divorced, empty nester Merilee is on a roll. Filled with scrumptious cookies and old-fashioned fun, her Christmas bus tours aim to add festive spirit to her hometown and new meaning to her lackluster life. Too bad her reserved driver slams the brakes on fun.

Widowed farmer Ross needs a little joy to combat his December blues. Behind the wheel, he wears a Santa suit but can’t muster a convincing ho-ho-ho. Too many memories block his road to happiness…until irrepressible Merilee sparks a snowstorm of unexpected feelings.

In two weeks of holiday tours, Ross might drive Merilee crazy…or will romance snowball inside their lonely hearts?

Social Media

Website: margotjohnson.ca

Facebook: MargotJohnsonAuthor  


In the Media: 

CTV News

CTV Morning Show

CHAB Radio

CBC Radio

Regina Leader Post


Book Tour: A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls, by Katie Mettner


Title: A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls

Author: Katie Mettner

Genre: Contemporary Romance / Christmas


Actress Carrie Murray’s films are a Christmas lover’s delight. Filled with twinkling lights, festive carols, and happy endings, they’re the perfect escape from reality. For her and the audience. Then Tinseltown calls.

Braxton Timothy is Hollywood’s biggest action star. Handsome and talented but decidedly on the naughty list, no one can fathom his sudden desire to produce a feel-good Christmas movie—least of all, his no-name co-star.

Alternating between scenes reminiscent of everyone’s favorite made-for-TV movies and unexpected, off-screen chemistry, Gingerbread Falls has surprises in store this holiday season. The question is, will there be enough Christmas magic to convince two imperfect people that they’re perfect for each other?


Katie Mettner writes small-town romantic tales filled with epic love stories and happily-ever-afters. She proudly wears the title of, ‘the only person to lose her leg after falling down the bunny hill,’ and loves decorating her prosthetic with the latest fashion trends. She lives in Northern Wisconsin with her own happily-ever-after and three mini-mes. Katie has a massive addiction to coffee and Twitter, and a lessening aversion to Pinterest — now that she’s quit trying to make the things she pins.

Website: http://katiemettner.com/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/katie-mettner

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Katie-Mettner/e/B006Z7STX2

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Wisconsinwriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KatieMettner

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sugarlipswi/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sugarsballroom/_created/

Find out more about the Publisher:

Website: https://www.breakingnightpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BreakingNightPress

Twitter: https://twitter.com/breakingnightp

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/breakingnightpress

Rewards Program: https://mailchi.mp/breakingnightpress/romance


Happy Book Birthday with a Guest Post on Romance Lives Forever

I’m excited to celebrate my first book birthday with Homemakers’ Christmas. I’ve enjoyed writing since learning how to hold a pencil. But, being a practical person, chose a practical career path. When inspiration struck and free time presented itself, I filled countless notebooks with half written stories and ideas. Ten years after the glimmer of this story sparked, I finally sat down and typed to the end. Rejection is real. After countless revisions and submissions, Homemakers’ Christmas found a home with Satin Romance, an imprint of Melange Publishing. I was fortunate to have a fantastic experience working with them.

One year later I’m thrilled to have a soon to be released novella published by The Wild Rose Press. Fun fact, they rejected Homemakers’ Christmas. But I’d read enough positive articles about them to take another chance with my next manuscript. The learning experience was unparalleled. A sequel is in the works! Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have dared to imagine these opportunities. It truly is never too late to follow your dreams.

Join me over at https://www.rlfblog.com/jill-piscitello-102021/ for a fun Is It True interview. Be sure to stick around to check out all the website has to offer and several series by Kayelle Allen.


Book Tour: How to Save a Superhero, by Ruth Freeman

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the HOW TO SAVE A SUPERHERO by Ruth Freeman Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!



Author: Ruth Freeman

Pub. Date: October 19, 2021

Publisher: Holiday House

Pages: 272

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: Goodreads,Amazon, Kindle, B&NiBooks, KoboTBD, Bookshop.org


Ten-year-old Addie knows that Superheroes aren’t real, and that they certainly don’t hide out in retirement communities, but she may just have to change her mind.

Addie and her mom never stay in one place too long. They’ve been up and down and all around the country. When her mom, Tish, gets a new job at Happy Valley Village Retirement Community in Pennsylvania, Addie believes they’ll be on the road again in a month. But this time, something is different–make that, someone. Mr. Norris, a grumpy resident of Happy Valley and. . .a former superhero?

Well, that’s what Marwa, whose mom also works at Happy Valley, would try and have Addie believe. Addie and her friend Dickson know better even if there are things they can’t explain. Like the time Mr. Norris was about to get hit by a car and was suddenly on the other side of the road or the way his stare seems to take root in Addie’s stomach.

When a man starts prowling the Happy Valley grounds, claiming to be the great-nephew of a resident, Addie, Marwa, and Dickson soon stumble into a grand conspiracy involving the Manhattan Project, a shady weapons company, and the fate of the human race, in this smart, funny middle grade novel.


★ “Featuring a cast whose distinct personalities are clearly built out, Freeman’s imaginative, suspenseful, and well-paced novel of intergenerational friendship will keep readers guessing.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Behind an uncommonly savvy, redoubtable protagonist, Freeman stocks her cast with a diverse array of equally vivacious characters, including as lively and hilarious a group of resident seniors as ever was. . . . A clever, lively romp.”—Kirkus Reviews


Two friends. One pact. The performance of their lives.

Hannah Abbott is stuck in a dead-end relationship and at a job she loves but that barely pays the bills. The four walls of her tiny New York City apartment have never seemed so small. She’s barely toasted her thirtieth birthday when her old college friend Will knocks on her door with an unexpected proposal.

Will Thorne never forgot the marriage pact he made with Hannah, but he also never imagined he’d be the one to initiate it. One ex-fiancée and an almost-career-ending mistake later, however, he finds himself outside Hannah’s door, on bended knee, to collect on their graduation-night pinky promise.

With both of their futures at stake, Hannah and Will take a leap of faith.

Now, all they have to do is convince their friends and family that they’re madly in love. As long as they follow the list of rules they’ve drafted, everything should go smoothly. Except Will has never been good with rules, and Hannah can’t stop overthinking the sleeping arrangements. Turning thirty has never been so promising.


Chapter 1

The map was no help at all. Fat raindrops fell from the trees overhead, hit the ink drawing, and turned the lines into blurry blue rivers and splotches. Wet leaves blew down and stuck to her raincoat like postage stamps. Everything around her smelled lost and lonely.

Was this really the right way? Uncle Tim and his brother-in-law, Matt, had said to follow the stream. Was that what they called this ditch going down between the trees with a trickle of dirty water in it? Addie wished her mom had shown her the way instead of giving her a pat, and a bit of a push, on the back and a “You’re good at maps, Addie. You’ll figure it out. You always do. And I’ll see you when you get there.”

A squeaky voice behind her made her jump.

“I’ve seen the most unusual insects in September.”

It was this little kid with a huge backpack coming

up behind her. Because he never took his eyes off the ground, he had to push his glasses up his nose about every other second.

He talked in a slow, precise kind of way like he was some scientist in a lab coat.

“Once . . . I found a caterpillar . . . with white bristles . . . and red spikes on its tail . . . like horns.” And he walked extra slow too, prying up stones and rotten sticks with one toe. When he squatted down to get a closer look at something, his backpack made him look like one of those million- year- old tortoises.

“Want to see a slug?” Not getting an answer, he looked up, his excitement fading. “Is that a map? Are you lost or something?”

“No, I’m good,” said Addie, turning and walking away into the woods.

“Okay. Well, see ya.” He launched his backpack into place and began to wander off.

Addie stopped. Face-to-face with one tree after another, she had to admit she had no idea where she was going.

“Wait!” she called before the kid got too far away.

“Do you know where Happy Valley Village is?”

“Sure,” he said over his shoulder. “That’s where I’m going.”

And that was how Addie found her way: by following this kid called Dickson down the rocky path he called the ravine to the retirement place where his mother and Addie’s mother both worked. She also found out, though she certainly hadn’t asked, that he was in fourth grade, a year behind Addie, he had skipped first grade because he was so smart, and slugs have green blood.

Following him was slow going, since he kept stopping to poke around in the dirt. At least Addie didn’t have to talk to him. While Bug Boy droned on with some new bit of information, Addie looked at the trees that arched over her, shutting out most of the afternoon light. It wasn’t like Mount Repose, Maine, where she and her mom, Tish, had lived with Granny Lu. That was spruce country, where zillions of needles combed the wind soft as a sigh and the air smelled of Christmas trees. Here, in Pennsylvania, there were leaves. Leaves rustling like colored paper, falling thick like pencil shavings and sticking to the soggy ground, where they settled into the mud and smelled of mold.

She and Tish had lived with Granny Lu ever since Addie was born. Addie’s mom was the youngest after four brothers. Definitely the baby of the family, until she grew up and had Addie when she was seventeen.

Addie was short for Adelaide. The story was that Granny Lu had cornered Tish one day when she was pregnant.

Addie could just picture it: Granny Lu asking in her gravelly voice, which did a good job of hiding the tenderness inside:

“So, Tish, got any baby names in mind?”

Knowing Tish, she had probably shrugged and tried to ignore her mother. As the one and only girl in the family, Tish had been named after Granny Lu’s own dear, sweet mother, Letitia, maybe because Granny Lu was hoping to pass some of that sweetness on to her baby girl.

Granny Lu went on to say that if Tish’s baby girl was named after one of Granny Lu’s dearly beloved sisters, Granny Lu would leave all her money to Tish and Addie.

Well, Tish always said Granny Lu had a sense of humor. Tish didn’t think anything in Granny Lu’s house was worth more than $3.50, but you never can be sure, can you? So Adelaide it was, and Addie she became. Which, in the long run, wasn’t so bad, since the other sisters were Eunice and Leona, and, thank goodness, no one had suggested using Granny Lu’s real name, which was Lucretia.

Life with Granny Lu had been pretty good, especially when she and Tish were getting along. Granny Lu had opened Lulu’s House of Hair in her extra bedroom even before her husband died young. There was one chair for clients in front of a jeweled mirror, one chair at a sink, and one attached to a dome hair dryer. Twinkly lights went across the ceiling. A tinselly pink Christmas tree came out in November and stayed till February, when the strings of red hearts came out. Granny Lu was into seasonal decorations and bought way, way too many things on Home Shopping TV.

As soon as she was old enough, Addie was put in charge of decorations and sweeping up for an allowance. She loved leaving the school bus behind and running up the walk to chat with Mrs. Donald about the weather, or make Ms. Schmidt a mug of tea, or see the latest pictures of Mrs. Leroux’s cat.

The one unbreakable rule was that no client was kept past 4 p.m., because that was when Granny Lu and Addie had business to attend to. Some days it was Home Shopping TV. “That commemorative coin is going to be worth a jackpot someday . . . just you wait and see!” And some days it was exercising with their favorite videos, such as Bollywood Dance Craze. Addie and Granny Lu had matching rainbow leggings. Granny Lu was all about keeping up with the latest styles in clothes, haircuts, and eye shadows, and she tried to pass this along to Addie, without much success. Addie didn’t care much about looking good, but she definitely liked the dance routines, and the decorations for each season, and she loved Granny Lu.

Then Granny Lu died and everything changed.

Since then, Addie and Tish had bounced around to each of Tish’s brothers, with a few cousins thrown in. They were on the last ones: Nice Uncle Tim and Crazy Aunt Tina. Aunt Tina had a brother, Matt, who worked in landscaping at the Happy Valley Village Retirement Community, which was how Tim got his sister, Tish, a job there. Owing to a few minor run- ins Tish had had with the law, it wasn’t easy, but Tim and Matt convinced them to try her for a month. So they had one month to make it work.

Addie didn’t have high hopes, as Granny Lu would have put it. Tish wasn’t one to put down roots and stick around anywhere for too long. This new school was Addie’s eleventh, if you counted preschool.

“Wait till Wilma sees this millipede!”

Dickson was holding something with a lot of legs. Addie gave a snort.

“She’s in for a real treat. Who’s Wilma?”

“You’ll see. She works at Happy Valley Village . . . HVV, for short. There it is.”

Addie stopped. At the bottom of the ravine the trickle had grown into a full- fledged stream and flowed into a wide, round pond. It was surrounded by a lawn that stretched up a sloping hill to the biggest old house Addie had ever seen. There was a round tower sticking up at one end, and a long grassy terrace edged by a low stone wall. On both sides of the old house were modern buildings stretching out from it like giant arms.

What made Addie stare, though, was how, at that moment, the sun burst from under the dark gray clouds like a spotlight turning every window to a blinding melting gold. Maples beside the house blazed like rubies and topazes.

Addie could barely breathe. Maybe it’s a sign, she thought. Maybe things could turn out all right here. She thought she could feel something good starting down in her toes. . . .

She shook her head. Whoa, who was she kidding? Granny Lu always said, among other things, “Don’t get your high- flyin’ hopes flyin’ too high.”

Chapter 2

Push that door buzzer three times. That’s how they know it’s me.”

Dickson had his hands full of millipede.

They were standing at what Dickson called the back door, a heavy metal door next to a loading dock and big trash containers. As they waited, he held the millipede up to the remote camera staring down at them.

“Look, Wilma!”

The door was yanked open by the biggest brown-skinned woman Addie had ever come face-to-face with. Actually, it wasn’t Wilma’s face, which towered over them, but Wilma’s generous chest that Addie stood in front of.

“Hi, kids,” said Wilma, out of breath. “Okay, listen up.” She bent down so her face was suddenly inches away from them. She had a big, husky whisper. “We are deep in Crazy Time here. You won’t believe the trouble. Hey,” she said, looking at Addie, “you’re the new girl. What’s your name?”


“Okay, Addie, hi there. I’m Wilma, head nurse on this hall. We’ll get better acquainted, but for now you’ve both got to hide.” She wiped her shiny forehead.

Dickson started to say, “What . . . ?”

But Wilma didn’t miss a beat.

“Dickson, honey, ditch the worm. We got a new resident today, the dude I was telling you about, and he’s gone and disappeared. Everybody’s hunting for him. Security, nurses, companions, even Mrs. Sloat herself. If she sees you there’ll be all kinds of questions. Take Addie here and head right downstairs. Got it?”

Addie had just enough time to see a long carpeted hallway that looked like a fancy hotel before Wilma whisked them through a door marked stairs.

“I’ll come get you two as soon as I can,” she said.

“And don’t worry, Addie, I’ll tell your mom you’re here. What a first day on the job she’s having!” She shut the door firmly behind them.

Dickson led the way down the stairs to the floor below. This hallway was nothing like the one above. Weak fluorescent lights in the ceiling flickered and hummed. On one side the wall was bare cinder blocks with no windows; on the other there were floor-to-ceiling wire cages.

“Hey, what is this, a prison?”

“Nah,” said Dickson. “It’s where the residents store their stuff they don’t need. See? Each one has a room number on it. This is the one we want. Mrs. Firillo lets me use hers while I wait for my mother after school.”

He fished a hidden key out through the chicken wire and opened the padlock. He swung the wire door open and disappeared into the darkness. In the thin, flickering light, Addie couldn’t see where he’d gone.

Then a lamp switched on.

“Okay, come on in,” he called.

She stuck her head in the doorway. Dickson was scrunched up at one end of a comfy sofa. The light from a standing lamp helped him see what was in a plastic tub beside him.

“Do you want chips or cookies?” he said, looking up. “Des from the kitchen leaves snacks here for me. And there’s bottles of juice too. The food here is great.”

Addie settled at the other end of the big brown sofa. This place was definitely weird and creepy, but pepperoni- pizza- flavored chips could make anything a little better.

“How long do we have to stay here?” she said.

Dickson hunched over a book, stuffing fistfuls of chips in his mouth.

“Depends. Until our mothers are done work. I’ve even taken a nap in here once or twice if my mother had a late meeting. If it’s quiet upstairs, Wilma gets me, and we watch TV up in the lounge. But today, with all this stuff going on, who knows?”

He looked up from his book.

“That reminds me,” he said, pointing at her. “I’m not supposed to be here. If you meet my mother, you CANNOT tell her I come over right after school and hang out here, okay? I’m supposed to go to an after- school program called Future Economists, Entrepreneurs, Business Owners, and Learners, FEEBOL for short, but I hate it. I hang out here instead.”

“Fine with me.” Addie shrugged. She couldn’t care less about him.

Dickson went right back to his book. He was done talking. It must be a good book, but Addie noticed that the big, splashy pictures weren’t insects.

Unscrewing the top of a juice bottle, Dickson caught her staring. He showed her the cover.

“WWE,” he said.

Addie didn’t know what that meant.

“World Wrestling Entertainment,” he said. “Just my MOST FAVORITE thing in the whole world! Look at this!”

He held up his right arm and made a fist, squeezing until his face turned red.

“See that?” he said, holding his breath. “That’s muscle!”

Addie looked at the skinny arm poking out of his oversized T-shirt, which read I’ve got the power! In lightning- flash letters. It wasn’t worth a comment.

“Haven’t you ever watched WWE on TV?”

Addie shook her head. She had no interest in keeping the conversation going, but he was waiting for an answer.

“My grandma and me were more into Home Shopping and Fitness TV.” Though, Addie thought to herself, Granny Lu might have gotten a kick out of those bare chested guys in crazy costumes and spandex.

The look he gave her showed Dickson thought the conversation had clearly run out of gas. He went back to reading.

Cooped up with Bug Boy, Addie had nothing to do but look around the storage compartment. She wondered if Mrs. Firillo might be into Home Shopping TV too. Every inch was taken up with stuff. Chairs piled with boxes were crammed next to a coatrack filled with clothes bags. A birdbath held up a large clock with no hands. On the floor were bags of dog food and potting soil beside stacks of flowerpots. A tangle of Christmas lights lay on top of a bureau with a dusty mirror hanging above it.

Addie fished her map notebook out of her backpack. That was what she did when she got bored . . . say, for instance, if she found herself spending time in an old lady’s storage compartment with nothing to do. Dickson might have his WWE, but she had her maps.

She flipped through the pages. There were maps of her old bedroom, Granny Lu’s living room, the hair salon, the garage where they’d open the big door on hot summer afternoons to drink ice tea and watch TV or exercise. There was a map she’d made of the campsite by the ocean where Tish had taken Addie for what she called “glamping . . . glamorous camping!” after she’d had a fight with Granny Lu. By then Granny Lu was pretty sick and thin, and when they came back a week later, she was in the hospital.

Addie had wanted to show Granny Lu the map of the campsite and put it into the Dream Box where she and Granny Lu kept their special things. Addie had made the campsite over- the- top beautiful, way more beautiful than it really was. Granny Lu would have loved it. But when they got back, the house was filled with family coming and going to the hospital, friends and neighbors bringing food. When Addie saw Granny Lu in the hospital, she was still and very sleepy. She patted Addie’s hand and couldn’t say more than a few words. Later, Addie asked different people in the house about the Dream Box, but no one had seen it.

When they left the house two years ago, after it was rented out, she’d made maps of the roads they took to each of Tish’s brothers’ places so that, one day, she could find her way back. Kind of like a trail of bread crumbs in one of those old fairy tales. Addie thought Granny Lu would like to know she was keeping her bearings, keeping her feet on the ground, and holding on to some sense of direction.

She turned to a blank page. What would she draw now? She didn’t feel like drawing the storage compartment. Maybe a map of Uncle Tim and Aunt Tina’s house. She could draw their living room and use it for a treasure hunt map for Bella, who was two and a half. Addie had never lived with little kids before and wasn’t sure at first what it would be like, but she found it was kind of fun to come home at the end of the day and be in a two- and-a- half- year old’s world. She got Bella to dance along to music, sometimes getting eight- month- old Logan to join them in his wheely walker. Aunt Tina even said no one could keep them busy like Addie.

Addie didn’t know how long they’d be there but, for the moment, it was home. She would need to draw a map of Happy Valley Village when she got to know it better too. If Tish kept her job, that is.

As Addie was thinking about the new map, she didn’t realize she was staring at the dusty mirror on the far wall. One minute she was zoned out, the next minute everything changed with a snap. There was nothing different to see or hear, but she knew. Absolutely. There was someone in the storage compartment with them.

It was the mirror. She held her breath. Everything looked the same as it had a second ago, but in the dusty mirror above the bureau, she saw it. An eye, so dark it seemed to beam a ray of pure energy through time and space. Straight at her.

Chapter 3

In front of the bureau and mirror was an overstuffed armchair with its back to her. Seeing the eye reflected in the mirror made Addie notice the tuft of scraggly gray hair sticking up from the chair. Nothing moved, not a hair, not a blink.

Then the hall door opened with such a bang, both Addie and Dickson jumped.

“Dickson, you there?” a man’s voice called.

Dickson bounced off the sofa, crunching over the chips he dropped.

“Yeah, right here!” He shoved his feet into his sneakers without bothering to tie the laces. Dickson filled Addie in. “ Brad. He’s in charge of the gym. He’s helping me train.”

Addie could hear Brad before she saw him, and when he got to the doorway, she could see why. Brad, young and fit in an HVV hoodie and sweat pants, wore an ID badge around his neck with an impressive array of keys. He held a cell phone and heavy- duty flashlight in one hand, a large walkie- talkie that crackled and zapped in the other.

“Hey, Dickson, have you seen anyone down here?” Brad saw Addie on the sofa. “Hi, you’re . . . ?”

“That’s Addie,” said Dickson. “Her mother started working here today.”

“Oh, Tish, yeah, I just met her,” said Brad. “Hey, have either of you seen anyone?”

Addie shook her head.

“Brad, can I help you look?” said Dickson.

“I don’t know. We’ve got a real situation going on here. Maybe it’d be better if you stayed out of the way.”

“Oh, come on, at least let me check things out with you down here.”

Brad thought a second.

“Okay, just the storage units, then I’ve got to do a sweep of the rest of the lower level.”

“Do you have an extra flashlight?”

Brad pulled a flashlight from his bulging hoodie pocket and handed it to Dickson.

“Addie, you want to come?” said Dickson.

Addie thought a second, thinking about that feeling of someone else being in the storage compartment, but shook her head. She must have imagined it. “You’ll be back, though, right?”

“Yeah, don’t worry,” said Dickson. He hopped after Brad, trailing long shoelaces behind him.

Addie could hear Brad’s deep voice and Dickson’s chirps as they went down the hall, taking time to peer into every storage area.

She opened a bag of cookies and wished she had some music she could turn on.

Then she heard it. She caught her breath. A sound deep and low like distant thunder that Addie felt shuddering inside her before she actually heard it. It came again, only this time it was bigger, like breakers from the open ocean pounding the shore.

“Excuse me . . . trying to clear my throat.” A growl of a voice came from the armchair. A hand like a giant claw gripped the chair’s arm, and a head covered with wild hair appeared around the side.

“Is the coast clear?”

Underneath two bristly eyebrows, the old guy’s eyes were startling, they were so dark and penetrating. That was the only word Addie could think of. It was like they had their own force field looking right through her to the other side and back again.

“I said, are they gone? Can I make my escape?”

Addie had turned to stone, but now she made herself breathe.

“Are you escaping?” she said, her voice wobbly.

“Well, what do you think I’m doing? Sitting here for the fun of it?”

Addie was not about to let him get away with that.

“How do I know?” she snapped.

He looked at her with those eyes.

“Stop looking at me like that,” she muttered.

He glared at her, then sat back in the chair. He sighed. “I thought you were helping me make my escape.”

When he spoke again, his voice had lost some of its fierceness.

“Are those cookies you’re eating?” he said.

“Chocolate chip,” said Addie.

There was a pause. She thought he would ask for some, but he didn’t.

“Want some? There’s plenty.”

“I would appreciate it. I haven’t eaten anything since breakfast.”

She unwound herself from the sofa and gathered up a selection of cookies, chips, and juice. She could hear Brad and Dickson far down the hall.

She walked slowly around to the front of the chair, not sure what to expect. And there he was. A grizzled old bear of a man in a wrinkly tweed jacket. It was a large chair, but he took up most of it. He wasn’t fat at all. He looked big and powerful and, like a bear, unpredictable. He watched her with those eyes of his.

“Here,” she said, holding up snacks to take his eyes off her. “Chocolate chip, sour cream and chive, pepperoni pizza, French onion, or hot tamale, and juice: apple- strawberry- cranberry or mango- peach- pineapple.”

“For crying out loud,” he rasped, “can’t they keep things simple anymore? Why do they have to go around messing everything up? Plain old apple juice, lemonade, maybe grape juice. That’s all anybody needs.”

“Okay, so here, take the chocolate chip cookies and the apple juice and pretend the strawberries and cranberries aren’t there.”

He grumbled but he took them. Then he had trouble tearing the plastic bag of cookies open and unscrewing the juice bottle. Addie had to help.

“So, why are you escaping?”

He finished the whole bottle of juice first.

“Because I don’t want to be here.” He said it as if it couldn’t be more obvious.

“Then why are you here?”

He kept eating cookies as if he didn’t want to answer.

Finally, it came out.

“I fell.”


“All right, I fell several times. I couldn’t get up. So they insisted I come here till I get steadier on my feet.”

“ ‘They,’ who’s ‘they’?”

“The Queen of the Underworld is what I call her. Mrs. Sloat, the director of this place. She decreed I have to be here, and I agreed to do it . . . for a month. But when I arrived today, I changed my mind. Your friend Brad can get me going again at my house.”

Addie noticed two gold- topped canes propped on the chair next to him.

“So, then, you really shouldn’t be escaping.”

“How kind of you to point that out.”

“Well, my mom started working here today, and she’s helped people with that kind of stuff. She only has a month too. To see if they like her.”

He huffed. “Well, good luck to her. But I wouldn’t get your hopes up. Mrs. Sloat doesn’t like anybody.”

“I know, I know. My grandma used to say life is nothing but a cold, wet smack in the kisser, right?”

He looked at her as if he was about to ask a question, then decided against it. He finished the cookies.

“I might try some of those awful chips,” he said.

Addie handed him a bag.

“Where were you going to go if you escaped?”

“My house is just over there.” He leaned his head in one direction. “I live in the old farmhouse. This whole place belonged to my family, but I had to sell it and now it’s . . . this . . . institution.” He snorted. “Happy Valley Village! Ha! It’s not happy, it’s not in a valley, and it’s certainly not my idea of a village!”

He sounded disgusted. “But I get to live here as long as . . . well, Mrs. Sloat is just waiting for me to die so she can get her hands on the whole place. So that’s why I have to get better and move home again.”

He shook his head and growled. “Living here is a misery. I miss having my own things, I miss the peace and quiet, and I miss my workshop. I’m a tinkerer, an inventor, you know. Have you ever heard of the staple remover? The salad spinner?”

Addie said, “Wait . . . you invented those?”

She thought it was more likely he was an inventor of stories.

“Well, I did, but I didn’t get credit for them. I was coming up with a formula for superglue too, but someone else beat me to it.” He finished the bag of chips and made a face. “Can’t anyone make a plain old potato chip anymore?” he grumbled. “And that’s another thing. The food here is terrible. Breakfast is the worst. Limp toast and coffee- colored water! And I really miss my stewed prunes. No one knows how to make stewed prunes anymore.”

Addie had never heard of them before, and they sounded terrible, but that was beside the point.

“Stewed prunes?” she said. “My mom makes great stewed prunes! She’s the best prune stewer ever!”

The things she had to do to help Tish keep her job.

Brad’s deep voice and Dickson’s squeaky voice were coming toward them.

The old man glared at her. He could hear Brad and Dickson too.

“I hate being here,” he growled, “and I suspect you’re lying, but if I could get some decent stewed prunes, then maybe the month wouldn’t be a complete disaster.”

Brad’s tall shape fi led the doorway.

“Wow, there you are, Mr. Norris! Gee, you know everyone’s looking for you?”


Ruth Freeman is the author of One Good Thing About America, which received a Golden Kite Honor Award and was called a “touching novel” by School Library Journal. Ruth grew up in rural Pennsylvania but now lives in Maine where she teaches English language learners in an elementary school. 

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon


3 winners will receive a finished copy of HOW TO SAVE A SUPERHERO, US Only.

Rafflecopter Link:

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

10/11/2021YA Books CentralExcerpt
10/11/2021Rajiv’s ReviewsReview
10/12/2021Kait Plus BooksExcerpt
10/12/2021BookHounds YAExcerpt
10/13/2021Pick a good bookExcerpt
10/13/2021The Momma SpotReview
10/14/2021Books Are Magic TooReview
10/14/2021two points of interedtReview
10/15/2021Jill PiscitelloExcerpt

Week Two:

10/18/2021FyreKatz BlogReview
10/19/2021Locks, Hooks and BooksReview
10/19/2021Phannie the Ginger BookwormReview
10/20/2021Wonder StruckReview
10/22/2021The Bookwyrm’s DenReview


Book Tour: Lala’s Words, by Gracey Zhang

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the LALA’S WORDS by Gracey Zhang Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


Title: LALA’S WORDS: A Story of Planting Kindness

Author: Gracey Zhang

Pub. Date: July 6, 2021

Publisher: Scholastic Inc.

Pages: 48

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: Goodreads,Amazon, Kindle, B&NiBooks, KoboTBD, Bookshop.org

From debut author-illustrator Gracey Zhang comes a timeless and timely picture book that celebrates the unassuming power of kind words.


Oh, there goes Lala! She carries a pot of water around the corner, down the block, and over the fence, to a patch of dirt and concrete where tiny weeds sprout. “Hello, hello, friends!” she whispers. Lala waters the plants every day, but it is her kind words that make them sway and nod.

Lala’s wild nature and quiet compassion enchant in this evergreen story about the power of kind words and the magic of being loved for who you are.

A Junior Library Guild selection

Praise for Lala’s Words:

★ “Zhang’s powerful debut lifts up the power words have to heal and feed.” ― Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Zhang’s style, blending warmhearted mltiethnic urban caricature with a bold-lined rough-and-tumble zeal, is wholly original. And like the compliment Lala pays her soon science-fiction-size plants, this debut picture book (which also depcits a burgeoning mother-daughter relationship) is ‘magnificient.'” ― New York TimesBook Review

“This is the enchanting story about the power of words.” ― Booklist

Lala’s enthusiasm blossoms on the page.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“A verdant tale of leaves, language, and most importantly, love.” ― Molly Idle (author-illustrator of Pearl; Flora and the Flamingo)

“Much like an encouraging word, Gracey’s vibrant pictures will lift you up.” ― Christian Robinson (author of Another; illustrator of Last Stop on Market Street)

“A touching fantasy rooted in reality. Gracey’s art recalls children’s books masters . . . Ludwig Bemelmans, Roger Duvoisin, David Small. Yet it is fresh and lovely and hasn’t been seen before.” ― LeUyen Pham (illustrator of Bear Came Along; Grace for President)

Lala’s Words is really about magic; a special kind of magic called kindness. Like the sunlight and falling rain, kindness nourishes the world around us. This book, with its lovely art and whimsical story, will also nourish the reader.” ― The Fan Brothers (author-illustrators of Ocean Meets Sky; The Night Gardener)



Gracey Zhang is an illustrator and animator with a love of storytelling and verse. She was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, and received her degree in Illustration from RISD. She is now based in Brooklyn, New York, where she can be found window watching from the train when she’s not scribbling away at her desk. Lala’s Words is her first picture book. You can visit her at graceyzhang.com.

Website | Instagram | Goodreads


3 winners will receive a finished copy of LALA’S WORDS, US Only.

Rafflecopter Link:

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

10/4/2021Literati PsycheReview
10/4/2021For The Love Of The PageExcerpt
10/5/2021The Momma SpotExcerpt
10/5/2021#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee BlogExcerpt
10/6/2021Jazzy Book ReviewsExcerpt
10/6/2021Rajiv’s ReviewsReview
10/7/2021Everyone’s LibrarianReview
10/12/2021Jill PiscitelloExcerpt

Week Two:

10/11/2021Lily Luchesi’s BlogExcerpt
10/12/2021More Books Please blogReview
10/12/2021BookHounds yaReview
10/13/2021Bea’s Book NookReview
10/14/2021The Adventures of a Travelers WifeExcerpt
10/14/2021Little Red ReadsReview
10/15/2021Two Chicks on BooksExcerpt
10/15/2021Jaime’s WorldExcerpt

Author Spotlight with Sarita Leone

It’s my pleasure to introduce Sarita Leone, author of Snickerdoodle Snowmen. This looks like the perfect story to kick off the holiday season.


Jill, thank you for hosting me here on your blog today. I am so grateful for the opportunity to chat a bit about my upcoming release.

Snickerdoodle Snowmen is part of The Wild Rose Press’ Christmas Cookies Series. It releases on November 3 but is available for pre-order now!

I’ve been asked what prompted me to write this holiday story. It was a number of things, really. I love stories about characters who seem so completely different that they look as if they’ll never find a “middle ground”—only to see that they are more alike than either believed. Also, I think setting has a lot to do with a story so placing this unlikely couple in North Pole, Alaska where they face bone-chilling cold and serious snowstorms raises the bar for them. Overcoming challenges is part of love, so I wondered if these two could pull together enough to get through. And then there were the Northern Lights, which are so beautiful and feel so magical. Love beneath the Lights? Yes, please!

I had a blast writing this story and I sincerely hope readers enjoy it. Romance, joy, and holiday magic…I think we could all use some of those things in our lives!  

Thank you for having me here today! Readers can find me on Facebook or on my blog, Sarita Leone Author. My books can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers.


Amazon.com : sarita leone

The Blurb:

Baker Kris Kringles sends snickerdoodles from North Pole, Alaska, across the globe, spreading holiday cheer like confetti. But she has a secret not dusted with sugar, and an incentive to speak with a slick journalist that isn’t half-baked.

Reporter Santos Kloss hates Christmas. How could he not, with a name that makes him the butt of endless holiday jokes? He’s got one last assignment to complete before he can begin a new chapter in his life, so he grits his teeth, grabs a parka, and heads to Christmas central.

Both expect the interview to be a snap, but a snowstorm, insistent sisters, and a little holiday magic have very different ideas!

Buy link:

Snickerdoodle Snowmen (Christmas Cookies) – Kindle edition by Leone, Sarita. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.


“You’re the newspaper man, aren’t you?”

Santos stopped the mug an inch from his lips and looked over the rim into the woman’s eyes. They were green—not merely hazel or a watered-down soda-bottle shade, but vibrantly colored, like the office parrot’s feathers. Polly, the newspaper mascot, looked like a beauty but swore like a sailor, courtesy of the newsmen who got their kicks from teaching the bird to talk. He’d even added some colorful Italian phrases to their feathered friend’s vocabulary. 

She stared at him with those piercing eyes so long and hard that his heart began to pound. He wondered if she read right into the truth of him. It sure felt that way. As if despite his nonchalant entrance, small talk, and even observing her figure, she realized he wasn’t some fellow off the street, in for a coffee and cookies. He resisted the urge to pull his jacket closed.

Great. Precisely what he didn’t need. A dame with a brain, a killer attribute that never failed to stir something deep within him.

The stirring hadn’t ever proved deep enough to keep a woman, so he tried to steer clear of romantic involvements. But damn, it felt as if she reached into his soul with those incredible eyes.

Santos lifted his shoulders, then let them drop. He took a long swallow of joe before setting the mug on the counter. “Guilty as charged. I’m from the New York Daily, here to do a story on some cookies that I’m told are made in this shop and sent to crazy, obsessed Christmas fanatics all over the world.”

The minute he said it he realized he’d stuck his foot in his mouth. Pretty far down his throat, too.


Author Spotlight with Jana Richards

I’d like to offer a warm welcome to author Jana Richards.  Enjoy today’s spotlight on her latest release, Unexpected – Book 3, Masonville Series.


Unexpected – Book 3, Masonville series

By Jana Richards

Genre: Small town contemporary romance

Themes: Marriage of convenience, friends to lovers, second-chance love, family conflict

Keywords: smalltown romance, addiction, damaged hero, infertility, troubled past,

ISBN: 978-1-5092-3829-3 Paperback
           978-1-5092-3830-9 Digital

Length: 352 pages

Heat Level: Spicy – R

Release Date: September 27, 2021

Cover Artist: Rae Monet


Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09CG2MVS7

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-unexpected-l-rosamond-richards/1114738832?ean=2940162376996

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/unexpected/id1580981690

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57013622-unexpected

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/unexpected-masonville-series-book-3-by-jana-richards

Short Links:

Amazon  ~  B & N  ~  iBooks

Tagline: A marriage of convenience. An unexpected love.


Single dad Ben Greyson wants only to retain custody of his two stepdaughters. A dysfunctional childhood has made family the most important thing in his life. When his late wife’s parents sue for custody, a desperate Ben is left with two choices – run away with his girls or marry his next-door neighbor.

Jamie Garven wants to be a mother. She’s intrigued by her handsome new neighbor and falls in love with his little girls. Then Ben is faced with losing his children, and Jamie agrees to marry him for a chance at motherhood. They’re determined to show the world, and the girls’ grandparents, two loving parents.

Their marriage of convenience turns to unexpected love. But Ben interprets Jamie’s efforts to save their family as betrayal-they could lose everything, including each other.


Excerpt #1 – 281 words

“Is there anything I can say to make you change your mind about running away?”

“Say you’ll marry me.”

The words were out of his mouth before he knew he was going to say them. Jamie stared at him, eyes wide.


“Marry me. You’re the only woman I’d trust with my girls.”

It suddenly made sense. If Jamie married him he could keep his kids.

She jumped to her feet, waking one of the dogs who’d been sleeping on the couch next to her. “What kind of marriage do you want, Ben? Are you proposing something for show?”

“No! I don’t know!” He stood and grasped her arms. “If you’re asking me if we’ll sleep together as man and wife, I don’t know.”

Her mouth twisted as if she was holding back tears. “You know I love the girls, but please don’t ask me to pretend. The last few months of my marriage, all I did was pretend. I pretended I had a husband who loved me. I swore I’d never do that again.”

Ben wanted to take her in his arms and hold her. He hated doing this to her, hated making her relive unhappy memories. He was asking too much of her and he didn’t blame her for saying no.

“Please, forget I said anything.”

He’d stick to his original plan. He and the girls would disappear. He’d change their names, go someplace where no one knew them. A life on the run wasn’t what he wanted for his children, but he’d do whatever he needed to do to keep them.


“I’m sorry, Jamie.”

Ben was out the door before he could hear anymore of her objections.

Excerpt #2 – 385 words

Ben was assailed by an overwhelming need to talk to someone. Jamie had been a good listener. He’d told her more about his circumstances, and his feelings, than he’d shared with either his brother or sister. He wasn’t sure why he’d opened up to her. He only knew she’d been kind to the girls. And to him.

Before he could talk himself out of it, he was looking up the number for the clinic on his phone. A moment later he listened to the phone ring.

What the hell am I doing? She didn’t want to hear from him, especially in the middle of a busy day at work. He was about to end the call when someone answered.

“Masonville Veterinary Clinic. How can I help you?”

Ben cleared his throat. “Can I speak to Jamie, I mean Dr. Garven?”

“I’m sorry, she’s with a client right now—oh wait, she just left the examining room. Can I tell her who’s calling?”

Again, he considered hanging up. Instead he heard himself say, “It’s Ben Greyson.”

“One moment please.”

The line went silent as she put him on hold. Ben paced back and forth on a small patch of gravel road in front of the clinic. He stared at his shoes, noting the dust covering the smooth leather. He didn’t know what he was going to say to Jamie. Why was he even calling her?

“Hello, Ben?”

The moment he heard her voice, his whole body relaxed. “Hi. I’m sorry to bother you at work. I know you’re busy.”

“No problem. What can I do for you?”

“Well, the girls have been asking about meeting Hector. Do you think it would be all right if I brought them over some time?”

“Yes, of course. I’m not working on Friday. Why don’t you guys come over for dinner?”

“I wasn’t angling for a dinner invitation.”

“I know. I’m offering. I’m a fantastic cook, if I say so myself.”

That made him smile. “Now I’m intrigued. Thank you. What time should we be there?”

“Come a few minutes before five and I’ll introduce Bella and Sophie to Hector.”

“Okay. See you then.”

“See you. Bye.”

Ben grinned as he put his phone in his pocket and began walking back to his office.

Everything was going to be okay.

Excerpt #3 – 414 words

Jamie didn’t sleep the rest of the night. The logical part of her brain told her if Ben lost custody it wasn’t her fault. Circumstances beyond her control, and Ben’s, had conspired against them. But guilt and worry wouldn’t let her rest.

The crazy thing was she could see the four of them together as a family. And she could see herself with Ben. She’d been fighting her feelings for him since the day they met. Learning he was a recovering alcoholic was a shock, but she knew he was much more than that. He was kind and funny, and a loving father.

But he didn’t love her.

She remembered what it was like to watch, day by day, as Carson fell a little more out of love with her. Every day another piece of her soul withered. To the outside world they probably still looked like a happy couple. But she could feel Carson pull away bit by bit, like water trickling out of a broken vase. It was in the awkward silences between them, the unexplained absences, the times he didn’t reach for her in the night.

Eventually the slow trickle turned into a torrent and he was gone. It had nearly destroyed her.

Could she live with a man who didn’t love her for a second time? Could she willingly step into a relationship, knowing it would likely end the same way her relationship to Carson ended?

Thoughts and emotions whirled in her brain, making her dizzy.

At four a.m. she gave up all pretence of sleep. She went to the kitchen for a drink of water and as she ran the tap, she saw the lights were on in Ben’s house. He probably couldn’t sleep either.

What must he be going through? She couldn’t imagine losing a child.

The old longing ache she’d worked so hard to dispel pressed on her heart. This is your chance, her heart whispered. Maybe your only chance to have children.

Jamie groaned out load. She couldn’t say no. Ben and the girls needed her.

Yet how could she say yes and expose herself to almost certain heartbreak?

Maybe some things were more important. Maybe it was enough to be a mother to the girls and create a family with them. She couldn’t expect Ben to love her as well. It was asking too much.

She couldn’t let him lose the girls. And she couldn’t let her one chance to be a mother slip away.

Author Bio:

When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.janarichards.com

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://www.janarichards.com

Blog:  http://janarichards.blogspot.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/JanaRichardsAuthor

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/JanaRichards_

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/author/janarichards

Amazon UK Author Page:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B002DEVWWG

Newsletter Signup: http://janarichards.com/contact.html#newsletter

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2892274Jana_Richards

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jana-richards


Guest Post with Jean M. Grant

I’m excited to share a link to my guest post on Jean M. Grant.

Follow the link for the post, but stick around to check out Jean M. Grant’s Bookshelf. She is an award winning author of several books including The Hundred Trilogy.

Many thanks to Jean for including me!


A Little Book Problem

I’m excited to share a link to my guest post on A Little Book Problem.

Follow the link for the post, but stick around to check out other author interviews and book reviews. This site offers something for all readers and writers.

Many thanks to Julie for including me!


Cover Reveal: A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls


Title: A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls

Author: Katie Mettner

Genre: Contemporary Romance / Christmas


Actress Carrie Murray’s films are a Christmas lover’s delight. Filled with twinkling lights, festive carols, and happy endings, they’re the perfect escape from reality. For her and the audience. Then Tinseltown calls.

Braxton Timothy is Hollywood’s biggest action star. Handsome and talented but decidedly on the naughty list, no one can fathom his sudden desire to produce a feel-good Christmas movie—least of all, his no-name co-star.

Alternating between scenes reminiscent of everyone’s favorite made-for-TV movies and unexpected, off-screen chemistry, Gingerbread Falls has surprises in store this holiday season. The question is, will there be enough Christmas magic to convince two imperfect people that they’re perfect for each other?


Katie Mettner writes small-town romantic tales filled with epic love stories and happily-ever-afters. She proudly wears the title of, ‘the only person to lose her leg after falling down the bunny hill,’ and loves decorating her prosthetic with the latest fashion trends. She lives in Northern Wisconsin with her own happily-ever-after and three mini-mes. Katie has a massive addiction to coffee and Twitter, and a lessening aversion to Pinterest — now that she’s quit trying to make the things she pins.

Website: http://katiemettner.com/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/katie-mettner

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Katie-Mettner/e/B006Z7STX2

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Wisconsinwriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KatieMettner

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sugarlipswi/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sugarsballroom/_created/

Find out more about the Publisher:

Website: https://www.breakingnightpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BreakingNightPress

Twitter: https://twitter.com/breakingnightp

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/breakingnightpress

Rewards Program: https://mailchi.mp/breakingnightpress/romance


Forever Winter – by Amber Daulton

Thank you to Amber Daulton for an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.


A perfect Christmas wedding, a snowstorm, and a shocking secret. What could go wrong?

Susanna Lorican must marry the man she loves before the truth is discovered or face the gossip of the ton. With an unexpected snowstorm injuring the minister, her future hangs in the balance.

Viscount Camden Beckinworth vows to keep his bride safe, even if he must betray her confidence. When their love is put to the test, how will he uphold her honor without jeopardizing his own?






  • I love a good Christmas romance any time of year. Forever Winter is the perfect novella for dipping a summer toe in the holiday season.
  • I loved that this sweet Regency romance started off with the first of many disruptions to what was supposed to be a perfect winter wedding.
  • I loved the pacing of this story. With one catastrophe after another, I was excited to see what would happen next. Would this series of unfortunate events derail the wedding entirely?
  • I loved that, despite the fact this is a short story, each character managed to leap off the page with a vivid personality.
  • I loved waiting for Susanna’s secret to be revealed to those closest to her.
  • I loved that vivid details allowed me to become fully immersed in a story world set during the 1800s.
  • I love that I wasn’t ready for story to end. The characters would lend themselves well toward a sequel or a lengthier novel.


Forever Winter is the perfect novella for any season. This sweet Regency romance immediately hooks the reader with the first of many disruptions to what was supposed to be the perfect winter wedding. With one catastrophe after another, the momentum builds suspense as the reader is always waiting to see what will happen next and wondering when secrets will be revealed. Will the series of increasingly unfortunate events derail the wedding? Be prepared to be immersed in a story world where every character comes to life.


Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through The Wild Rose Press, Books to Go Now, and Daulton Publishing, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.


Website – https://amberdaulton.wordpress.com/
Facebook Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/amber.daulton.author
Twitter – https://twitter.com/AmberDaulton1
Pinterest – https://pinterest.com/amberdaulton5/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6624921.Amber_Daulton


BOOK BLITZ: Edenhart’s Rivalry by J.N Tomczak

I am so excited that EDENHART’S RIVALRY by J.N. Tomczak is available now and that I get to share the news!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book, be sure to check out all the details below. 

This blitz also includes a giveaway for some a $10 Amazon GC & a signed poster of the book cover courtesy of J.N. & Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, check out the giveaway info below.


Title: EDENHART’S RIVALRY (Kingdom of the Faeries #1)
Author: J.N. Tomczak
Pub. Date: May 1, 2021
Publisher: J.N. Tomczak
Pages: 388
Formats: Paperback, eBook 

Find it: Goodreads, Amazon

Read for FREE With Kindle Unlimited!



Darkness is spreading across the kingdoms—and one faerie stands between destruction and survival. Aurora’s peaceful existence is shattered by an unexpected tragedy that leaves her as the last surviving heir to the throne. But her reign is threatened before it can even begin.

Her court swells with spies and traitors. There are growing tales of a mysterious blight. Strange riders abroad are hunting for something—or someone.

On the day of her coronation, she and her loyal friend, Percy, the newly appointed Flight Captain, discover an ancient prophecy sealed away and guarded in a secret chamber beneath the castle. There they uncover a sinister plot that will spiral her people into a war they cannot win on their own. Her courage and wit will be her greatest weapons if she hopes to succeed where others have failed. She must ask herself just how far is she willing to go to save her kingdom and at what costs?


Julianne is a USA Today Bestselling Author and writes primarily YA/Epic Fantasy. Her favorite genres to read include epic fantasy, YA, and sci-fi.

Julianne grew up on a small town farm in central Arkansas and currently lives happily-ever-after with her husband and their cat, Oliver, and three frogs, Milo, Momma Odie, and Sir Fluffles.
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub


1 winner will win a $10 Amazon GC, International.
1 winner will win a 11X17 high res poster, signed, of the cover, US Only.

Rafflecopter Link:


BOOK BLITZ: When We’re Thirty by Casey Dembowski

I am so excited that WHEN WE’RE THIRTY by Casey Dembowski is available now and that I get to share the news!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book, be sure to check out all the details below. 

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a signed copy of the book courtesy of Casey & Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, check out the giveaway info below.


Author: Casey Dembowski
Pub. Date: April 27, 2021
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Pages: 297
Formats: Paperback, eBook 

Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, B&N, iBooks, Kobo


Two friends. One pact. The performance of their lives.

Hannah Abbott is stuck in a dead-end relationship and at a job she loves but that barely pays the bills. The four walls of her tiny New York City apartment have never seemed so small. She’s barely toasted her thirtieth birthday when her old college friend Will knocks on her door with an unexpected proposal.

Will Thorne never forgot the marriage pact he made with Hannah, but he also never imagined he’d be the one to initiate it. One ex-fiancée and an almost-career-ending mistake later, however, he finds himself outside Hannah’s door, on bended knee, to collect on their graduation-night pinky promise.

With both of their futures at stake, Hannah and Will take a leap of faith.

Now, all they have to do is convince their friends and family that they’re madly in love. As long as they follow the list of rules they’ve drafted, everything should go smoothly. Except Will has never been good with rules, and Hannah can’t stop overthinking the sleeping arrangements. Turning thirty has never been so promising.


Casey Dembowski loves to write stories that focus on the intricacies of relationships–whether they be romantic, familial, or friendship. Her novels focus on the inner workings of women and how everything in their lives leads them to exactly where they are, whether they like it or not.

The first story Casey remembers writing was in the second grade, though it wasn’t until she turned twelve that she started carrying a battered composition notebook everywhere she went. Since then, there hasn’t been a time when she isn’t writing.

Casey lives in New Jersey with her husband, daughter, and their two cats. She has an MFA in Fiction from Adelphi University and currently works in corporate marketing communications. In her (limited) spare time, she enjoys reading, baking, and watching her favorite television shows on repeat.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub


1 winner will receive a signed finished copy of WHEN WE’RE THIRTY, US Only.
1 winner will receive an ebook of WHEN WE’RE THIRTY, International.

Rafflecopter Link:


BOOK TOUR: Willa of Dark Hollow by Robert Beatty

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the WILLA OF DARK HOLLOW by Robert Beatty Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


Author: Graci Kim
Pub. Date: May 4, 2021
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 336

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, KindleAudibleB&NiBooks, KoboTBD, Bookshop.org


Young nightspirit Willa discovers an ancient, powerful magic deep in the forest in the enchanting companion to Robert Beatty’s instant #1 New York Times best-seller, Willa of the Wood.

This enchanting companion to Robert Beatty’s instant #1 New York Times bestseller Willa of the Wood is perfect for any reader who cares deeply about the natural world. 

Willa and her clan are the last of the Faeran, an ancient race of forest people who have lived in the Great Smoky Mountains for as long as the trees have grown there. But as crews of newly arrived humans start cutting down great swaths of the forest she loves, she is helpless to stop them. How can she fight the destroyers of the forest and their powerful machines?

When Willa discovers a mysterious dark hollow filled with strange and beautiful creatures, she comes to realize that it contains a terrifying force that seems to be hunting humans. Is unleashing these dangerous spirits the key to stopping the loggers? Willa must find a way to save the people and animals she loves and take a stand against a consuming darkness that threatens to destroy her world.Praise for Willa of the Wood:
Willa of the Wood will grip readers from its first page… Willa is… an admirable protagonist.”—Culturess

“A moving, atmospheric journey of hope.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Beatty conjures up a resourceful, compassionate heroine. Full of atmospheric details and richly described magic… this well-paced tale asks insightful questions about the relationship between nature and humans.”—Publishers Weekly

“The heroine is an appealing character… and her anguish is clear as she wavers between frightened self-preservation and her desire to help her friends.”—School Library Journal

“Willa is a strong and likable creature of the natural world, and seamlessly represents themes of loyalty, tradition, family, and stewardship of the Earth in this engaging story.”—School Library Connection


2018 Goodreads Choice Awards: Middle Grade, finalist

2018 Cybils Award, Elementary Middle Grade Speculative Fiction Nominee

Amazon: Best Children’s Books of 2018, ages 9-12

Imagination Soup: Best Middle Grade Chapter Books of 2018

BNKids: July’s Best Books for Young Readers, selection (2018)

Brightly: 9 Middle Grade Books for Environmentally Conscious Kids, selection (2018)

PopSugar: The Best books for Kids in 2018, as Voted by Actual Kids and Parents Who Read Them, selection

A Mighty Girl: 2018 Books of the Year, ages 9-12


Willa of the Wood and Willa of Dark Hollow are being adapted into a multi-season, live-action television series!


The Great Smoky Mountains


The world is neither flat nor round.

It’s mountains.


Willa pivoted toward the sound. The sharp, popping cracks of fracturing wood rolled like thunder through the forest air. Then came the rain-like noise of a thousand snapping branches and tearing leaves crashing down. When the massive trunk finally struck the ground, the earth shook beneath her bare feet. A gust of wind swept through the forest and blew through Willa’s long bark-and-moss-colored hair. And as the realization of what had just happened sank into her mind, her chest filled with pain. The human loggers had cut down the great hemlock tree that lived at the bend of the river.

She stood frozen like a young deer.

It was a tree she had sat beside on sunlit mornings, watching the river flow past its roots, a tree she and her twin sister had curled up in on misty nights, gazing up through its outstretched branches toward the Great Smoky Mountain and the moon above. The trees of the forest had shrouded and sheltered her all her life. They had consoled her when her sister was killed. They were her earth and her soil, her sunlight and her song.

But now she heard the axmen chopping and sawing and shouting to each other, their harsh, barking words circling through the treetops like quarreling ravens. The quills on the back of her neck went up and a burst of heat flashed through her body. She knew she should flee this killing ground or blend her green skin into the leaves of the undergrowth and disappear from the coming human eyes. She must run from their tromping feet and escape their cutting blades.

But how could she run away when her friends were dying? How could she just leave them?

She had to stop the loggers, but she had no sharp claws or long teeth. She had no weapons or ability to fight. She didn’t hurt living creatures, she helped them.

The human loggers had jagged metal saws, axes, knives, guns, animals in chains, vast metal contraptions for dragging murdered trees from the forest, and black, steaming beasts that rolled on long gleaming tracks. She was a lone thirteen-year-old Faeran girl without a clan. How could she fight the men of iron?

The crash of another tree broke like a wave through the forest, the wind of it brushing her cheek.

Her heart pounded in her chest.

She knew she couldn’t protect the trees the way they had protected her. She couldn’t shroud them or shelter them or hide them from the world.

But she couldn’t just abandon them, either.

She took a few uncertain steps, her legs trembling. Her eyes watered with burning tears.

And then she ran toward the sound of the falling trees.


Robert Beatty is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Serafina series and the Willa of the Wood series published by Disney Hyperion. Loved by young readers and adults alike, the Serafina and Willa books are being taught in over a thousand classrooms nationwide and have been translated into over 22 languages. Robert lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina with his wife and three daughters. He writes full-time now, but in his past lives, Robert was one of the early pioneers of cloud computing, the founder/CEO of Plex Systems, the co-founder of Beatty Robotics, and the chairman/CTO of Narrative magazine. In 2007, he was named an Entrepreneur of the Year. When asked about the inspiration for his books, Robert said, “The Serafina and Willa books grew out of my desire to write stories about unusual and heroic young girls for my three daughters.”

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon


3 winners will win a finished copy of WILLA OF DARK HOLLOW, US Only.

Rafflecopter link:



Week One:

5/1/2021BookHounds YAExcerpt

Week Two:

5/2/2021Log Cabin LibraryExcerpt
5/4/2021YA Books CentralExcerpt
5/8/2021Amani’s ReviewsReview

Week Three:

5/9/2021Little Red ReadsReview
5/10/2021The Bookwyrm’s DenReview
5/11/2021A Court of Coffee and BooksReview
5/12/2021Emelie’s BooksReview
5/13/2021Books and ZebrasReview
5/14/2021Kait Plus BooksExcerpt

Week Four:

5/16/2021two points of interestReview
5/17/2021History from a Woman’s PerspectiveReview
5/18/2021Rajiv’s ReviewsReview
5/19/2021Lifestyle of MeReview
5/20/2021Haunted By BooksReview
5/21/2021The Momma SpotReview
5/22/2021Fyrekatz BlogReview

Week Five:

5/23/2021The Try EverythingExcerpt
5/24/2021Musing of SoulsReview
5/29/2021A Dream Within A DreamExcerpt

Week Six:

5/30/2021Lady HawkeyeExcerpt
5/31/2021Do You Dog-ear?Review

Book Tour: The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the THE LAST FALLEN STAR by Graci Kim Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


Author: Graci Kim
Pub. Date: May 4, 2021
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 336

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, KindleAudibleB&NiBooks, KoboTBD, Bookshop.org


Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Graci Kim’s thrilling debut about an adopted Korean-American girl who discovers her heritage and her magic on a perilous journey to save her witch clan family.

Graci Kim does such an amazing job of blending Korean mythology into the modern world, I am now wondering how I ever lived without knowing all this cool information.”–New York Times #1 best-selling author Rick Riordan

 Riley Oh can’t wait to see her sister get initiated into the Gom clan, a powerful lineage of Korean healing witches their family has belonged to for generations. Her sister, Hattie, will earn her Gi bracelet and finally be able to cast spells without adult supervision. Although Riley is desperate to follow in her sister’s footsteps when she herself turns thirteen, she’s a saram–a person without magic. Riley was adopted, and despite having memorized every healing spell she’s ever heard, she often feels like the odd one out in her family and the gifted community.

Then Hattie gets an idea: what if the two of them could cast a spell that would allow Riley to share Hattie’s magic? Their sleuthing reveals a promising incantation in the family’s old spell book, and the sisters decide to perform it at Hattie’s initiation ceremony. If it works, no one will ever treat Riley as an outsider again. It’s a perfect plan!

Until it isn’t. When the sisters attempt to violate the laws of the Godrealm, Hattie’s life ends up hanging in the balance, and to save her Riley has to fulfill an impossible task: find the last fallen star. But what even is the star, and how can she find it?

As Riley embarks on her search, she finds herself meeting fantastic creatures and collaborating with her worst enemies. And when she uncovers secrets that challenge everything she has been taught to believe, Riley must decide what it means to be a witch, what it means to be family, and what it really means to belong.

Praise for The Last Fallen Star

The Last Fallen Star folds Korean culture as well as diaspora feelings into a magical adventure. The way Graci Kim takes traditions and lore and incorporates them into an exciting contemporary fantasy setting makes my heart soar as a Korean reader. This fantastical story is filled with heart and humor. Readers who love magical adventures, complex family relationships, and sisterhood—not to mention food!—should pick up THE LAST FALLEN STAR immediately!”—Kat Cho, internationally best-selling author of Vicious Spirits

“Korean mythology gets a modern twist in this rollicking adventure by debut author Graci Kim. From entering a secret temple by way of the fried chicken counter at H-Mart to summoning a goddess at the Santa Monica Pier, every chapter of this novel delights and surprises. At times laugh-out-loud hilarious, at times heartwarming and poignant, The Last Fallen Star will capture the imaginations of readers for years to come!”—Axie Oh, author of Rebel Seoul and Rogue Heart

“Reading The Last Fallen Star is like taking a course in Korean mythology taught by your favorite teacher ever—while riding a gigantic roller coaster beneath a sky filled with shooting stars! I loved following Riley’s thrilling adventures, and pass the bulgogi tacos, please.”—Linda Sue Park, Newbery Medalist for A Single Shard

“Like a true magician, Graci Kim intertwines Korean mythology with an all-too-relatable sister story in her heart-stopping adventure that’s sure to capture the heart of anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider. You can’t help but root for plucky Riley Oh as she engages on a quest to find belonging and acceptance.” —Jessica Kim, author of Stand Up, Yumi Chung!

“I wish I could go back in time and hand this book to young Ellen. I would have loved it so much, because this was what I was missing in my life. Thank you, Graci, for writing it!”—Ellen Oh, author of The Dragon Egg Princess and the Spirit Hunters series

The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim absolutely shines. Riley Oh’s positive voice is infectious and will have readers wanting to follow her adventures long after the last page is turned.” — Zoraida Córdova, award-winning author of the Brooklyn Brujas series



My Family of Healing Witches

So here’s the thing.

There are only two days left until my sister’s initiation ceremony. In two sleeps, Hattie will turn thirteen, and she will have to prove to the entire congregation of gifted clans in Los Angeles that she has what it takes to become a witch. A healing witch. A real Gom.

And she’s gonna be amazeballs, of course. I mean, it’s her birthright. Healing magic flows in her blood, as it flows through our parents’ blood, because we, the Gom clan, are descendants of the Cave Bear Goddess—the patron goddess of service and sacrifice.

Well, except me.

Sigh. Yep. My own thirteenth birthday is only a month away, but unlike my eomma (that’s my mom) or my appa (that’s my dad) or my sister, I’m a normal, non-gifted person without a lick of magic. I’m a saram.

I was adopted. And don’t get me wrong. My parents try super hard to make me feel part of the gifted community, and I love them so much for it. But the truth is, the harder they try, the more I realize how much of an outsider I really am. I’m different.

Hence why I’m here, sitting behind the reception desk of the Traditional Korean Medicine Clinic that my parents run, doing mind-numbing data entry instead of practicing healing spells like my sister.

The bells chime on the clinic’s door, and I jolt up in my chair as an old, dark-haired man limps in. He looks like he could be Korean, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him at temple.

“Welcome to the clinic!” I say. “How can I help you?”

“Good morning,” he says, wincing as he wobbles up to the desk. “My name is Robert Choi. I’ve just moved here from New York, and I was told to ask for a James or Eunha Oh. I think I’ve sprained my ankle.”

He slides his wrists together, and the water in his Gi—the cylindrical glass charm on his bracelet—sloshes a little as it rubs against his skin. An image of two suns and two moons appears on his right wrist with the motion, and the symbol glows green.

Ah, he’s a Tokki—an infusing witch. All witches get the same gifted mark on their wrists when they do magic, but it reveals itself in different colors depending on which clan they belong to. The mark is also how we can tell which patients are gifted and which are saram. If they’re saram, we have to make sure they don’t know we heal with magic. The infusers make special memory-erasing potions for that.

I know what you’re thinking: Why would you keep such an awesome skill secret from the world? Well, Appa says if

My Family of Healing Witches

the saram found out about the gifted clans, that would bring grave danger to our community. People don’t like what they can’t understand. It scares them, and scared people do foolish things. I guess that makes sense.

“You’ve come to the right place,” I say, smiling brightly. “James and Eunha are my parents. And sorry to hear about your foot, Mr. Choi. Appa has just finished up with a patient, and there’s a free slot for you now if you’d like it.”

“Ah, you must be Hattie.” He nods knowingly at me. “I hear you have an initiation ceremony coming up. I hope you are well prepared.”

I shake my head. “Hattie’s actually my sister. I’m not… Well, I can’t…” I trail off, and Mr. Choi frowns.

“That’s odd. They said the Ohs only had one daughter.”

Oof. The comment spears right through my chest, but I stay silent and put on a well-rehearsed fake smile. What I’d really like to do right now is take out my Gi bracelet (if I had one) and heal his ankle right here and now, to prove how much of an Oh I really am. Or at least stand up for myself and tell him I’m part of this family, too. That’s what Hattie would do if she were in my place.

But I’m not my sister. I’m not brave like she is. I prefer to keep my head down and stay out of trouble. Trust me, it’s easier this way.

A warm hand squeezes my shoulder, and I look back to see Appa standing behind me. I didn’t hear him come to recep­tion. “This is Riley, most definitely our daughter, and the most dedicated Gom I know.” Appa beams at me, and then extends his hand to Mr. Choi. “Welcome to our humble clinic, Robert.

And welcome to LA. Come with me, and let’s get that ankle looked at.”

Appa leads the hobbling Mr. Choi down the hallway, and a stinging heat builds behind my eyes. Sigh. Yet another day in the life of Riley Oh—the wannabe witch living in an exclusive gifted world.

“Riley!” Hattie runs up to the reception desk, puts her elbows on it, and rests her chin on her palms. Her rounded cheeks are pink, and her hair is damp with sweat. “Please come save me. Eomma is driving me up the wall. She’s making me repeat the incantations a billion times, and I don’t know what they mean anymore. I mean, honestly, what are words even?”

“She just wants you to do well at the initiation.”

Hattie rolls her eyes, but she knows I’m right.

A successful initiation ceremony is the most important rite of passage in a witch’s life. She’s got to perform three spells that satisfy the elders in the gifted clans council, and then say her vows in front of the whole congregation at temple. That’s hundreds of people from five different clans, not to mention our patron goddess, who will be watching from the Godrealm.

Then, and only then, will Hattie get to wear her Gi around her wrist without adult supervision. Without it, she can’t do any magic. So yeah, basically, it’s a big deal. I mean, no pres­sure or anything.

Hattie fiddles with the earth-filled charm that’s attached to a gold chain around her wrist. Eomma usually keeps my sister’s Gi in her enchanted safe, and Hattie only gets to wear it when she’s practicing spells with our parents. “Okay, but can you come with me anyway? Eomma’s all cranky and flustered, and I need moral support. Please?”

I make a serious face and pretend to be preoccupied with the patient database. “I’m kinda busy.”

“Pretty pleeease?” She gets all up in my face and makes big puppy-dog eyes at me. “You can have my favorite sweater. And I’ll do all your chores for a week. Come on, Rye, have a heart!”

I hold off as long as I can before laughing. “Okay, okay, you twisted my arm.” I push her sweaty mug away. “Just wanted to see you beg. Looks good on you.”

“You’ll pay for that!” She slaps me on my shoulder but grins, and then drags me out of my chair and down the hallway to Eomma’s consultation room.

Eomma is inside, pacing back and forth while holding the family spellbook up to her nose. Her glasses are foggy, and her black perm is bouncing like a halo around her head. “Hattie, there you are! Now come back and practice the wound-closing incantation again.” She points her finger at a Korean word in her spellbook. “And remember this time that the p is aspirated, so don’t be shy—put your whole diaphragm into it. Puh! Puh! See? Like this—puh!”

Hattie drags her palms down her cheeks and gives me an exasperated look. I stifle a laugh. Eomma is in fine form today. She pulls off the plugged-into-a-power-socket and rest-is-for-the-weak! looks better than anyone I know.

As Hattie reluctantly follows Eomma’s lead to aspirate her puhs, I study their two faces. And, for the billionth time, I wish I looked more like them.

I’m told my biological parents were of Korean ethnicity, too. But that’s about where the similarities end. Where my Gom family are round, petite, and unblemished, I’m tall and freckled. I’m all pointy chin and high cheekbones, with more angles than curves. I’m the one people raise their eyebrows at when they look at our family photos.

Before I know it, my eyes are burning and I quickly wipe them, embarrassed. Ugh. Classic me. This is what my best friend, Emmett, calls my “leaky-bladder eyeball problem.” You see, I have a slight issue controlling my tears. When I’m sad, I cry. When I’m angry, I cry. When I’m frustrated, I cry. I’m basically really talented at crying.

Hattie says it’s a good thing—that I’m in touch with my feelings (more like drowning in them…). And Eomma and Appa say I’ll grow out of it. But let’s face it—compared to my confident-and-composed family, I’m flawed. It’s yet another piece of evidence that I’m not a true Oh. That I’m weak and don’t belong.

Eomma has now prompted Hattie to practice her vows, and my sister reluctantly obeys. “I vow on the name of Mago Halmi, mother of the three realms, mother of the six god­desses, mother of mortalkind and all creation”—Hattie’s lisp is making an appearance, which only happens when she’s tired or stressed—“to carry out my sacred duty to heal those in need. To uphold the Gom clan motto of service and sacri­fice… and…and…”

She trails off, forgetting the words, and I finish the sen­tence for her. “And I understand that with my gift comes great responsibility—to my clan, to the gifted community, and to our ancestor, the Cave Bear Goddess, who blesses us with her divine power.” I might not have a Gi or magic running through my veins, but I know my stuff.

Hattie gives me a grateful look. Thanks, she mouths. She puts her hands on her hips. “See, Eomma? Riley is so much more ready for an initiation than I’ll ever be. Have you spo­ken to Auntie Okja about Rye being allowed to do one, too?”

I stick my hand in my pocket and squeeze my onyx stone to calm my nerves. It’s shaped like a curved teardrop, and it’s the only thing my biological parents left me. Hattie thinks it might be a family heirloom or something, but I just like how hard and real it feels in my hand. It’s only a stone (and not nearly as cool as a Gi), but sometimes I carry it with me, because touching it reminds me that I came from some­where, too.

“Sorry, girls. Your appa and I have been trying to find a good time to tell you….” Eomma sighs. “Auntie Okja tried really hard, but the other elders just won’t budge.”

I lower my eyes, mostly to hide the new trickle of disap­pointment forming on my eye line. My stupid leaky-bladder eyeballs fail me again. “Oh… That’s okay,” I say, even though that’s far from the truth. “Thank you for trying.”

Hattie raises her eyebrows at me. “No, it’s not okay.” She turns to Eomma. “You and Appa are always pushing for more inclusivity in the gifted community. This is the perfect oppor­tunity to make a statement, isn’t it?”

Eomma looks sheepish. “You’re absolutely right. But change takes time. Some of the clans aren’t as progressive as we are. They’re arguing that, without a Gi, Riley wouldn’t be able to cast the spells anyway. And if the council can’t witness the spells during the initiation, they can’t make a fair assessment.”

I shrink, but Hattie pushes back. “But that’s the whole point. Rye knows the words to all the healing spells, back to front. If the council just gave her a chance to prove herself, maybe the goddess would be convinced and grant Rye a Gi, too.” She rolls her eyes. “They’ve got it all backward.”

“I understand, sweetheart. You know I do. But the other elders think it’s asking too much of the Godrealm to bless a saram with magic. That it would be impertinent of us. Dis­respectful, even. Your auntie is only one voice among five.”

Hattie raises her hands in exasperation, and I want to melt into the floor and disappear. I hate being the reason they argue. “Seriously, it’s okay, Hat—” I start, trying to calm my sister.

“What’s disrespectful is not even giving Riley a chance,” Hattie continues. “If she tanks the initiation and the Cave Bear Goddess doesn’t give her a Gi, then fine. Or if Riley doesn’t want to do it, then that’s also fine. But not giving her the freedom to choose? That’s wrong on so many levels.”

When Eomma doesn’t respond, Hattie squeezes my hand, and a determined look appears on her face. I call it her boss face, because no one in their right mind would mess with Hattie while she’s wearing that expression. “As soon as I’m old enough,” she says, “I’m gonna run for Gom elder. And when I do, mark my words, I’m going to shake up that place. The whole secret-society thing is so outdated.”

“I have no doubt you will achieve that, and so much more,” Eomma says, and I totally agree. I mean, why stop at council elder? Hattie for president! I can see the enamel pins already.

I squeeze Hattie’s hand back and feel a warmth spread through my chest. For everything I don’t have, I definitely won the jackpot as far as my sister goes. She is literally the Best. Sister. Ever.

“It’s a shame you can’t just do a spell to share your magic,” I joke, trying to lighten the mood. “One where the recipient doesn’t need a Gi. That would solve all our problems.”

A grin spreads over Hattie’s face. “Crowdsourced magic. Now that would jolt the clans into the twenty-first century, right, Eomma?”

We both look to Eomma, and she laughs nervously.

Hattie and I share a glance. Eomma only laughs like that when she’s hiding something.

No. Way,” Hattie says. “There actually is a spell for sharing magic with a saram, isn’t there?”

My jaw falls to the ground. Impossible!

Eomma mumbles something under her breath but still avoids our eyes, and that is a dead giveaway. “It’s not that simple, girls,” she finally admits. “It’s dangerous, and even if it worked, it wouldn’t be permanent. The spell would have to be redone again and again—”

“What’s the name of the spell?” Hattie interrupts. “And where can we find it?”

And were you ever going to tell me about it? I silently ask, my gut rolling into a tight knot.

Eomma closes the spellbook in her hands with a decisive thud. “This conversation has gone on long enough.” She looks at the clock on the wall and gasps. “And we’re going to be late for temple! Quick, go get your appa. We’re leaving in two.”

She hurries us out of her consultation room, and I get my butt moving. I wouldn’t miss temple for anything.

“Rye!” Hattie stops me in my tracks and grabs my arm. “Did you see Eomma glance at the book when I asked where we could find the spell?”

I shake my head. I hadn’t noticed. I was too busy wonder­ing why my parents had kept this from me when they knew how badly I wanted to become a witch.

“I know that book’s only supposed to have healing spells in it,” Hattie continues, “but maybe Eomma just told us that so we wouldn’t snoop. Maybe the magic-sharing spell is in there, too. In fact, I’m sure it is. Where else could it be?”

I frown. We’re not allowed to touch the family spellbook—not until Eomma and Appa deem us ready. And besides, breaking rules makes me erupt in hives.

“But, Hat,” I start, “you know I was joking before, right? Even if the spell is in there, I could never ask you to share your magic. Besides, Eomma said it was dangerous. She wouldn’t lie about something like that.”

She snorts. “Who said I wanted your permission? Didn’t you hear me drone on about choice before? If I want to share my magic with you, who are you to stop me?”

I stare at her, wondering what I ever did to deserve such a selfless and fearless sister.

Hattie lowers her voice, and there’s an excited twinkle in her eye. “Looks like we need to get our sticky hands on a cer­tain spellbook, wouldn’t you say?”

As she drags me to Appa’s consultation room to fetch him, I hear a small voice in my head.

Could I actually become a healing witch—a real Gom? Could this be my chance to do my parents proud and prove to the gifted community that I belong?

I know I shouldn’t get my hopes up. It’d just be a recipe for disappointment.

But here’s the real crux of the problem, folks: I, Riley Oh, have a sweet tooth.

And hope? Well, hope tastes sweeter than candy.


Graci Kim is a Korean-Kiwi diplomat turned author who writes about the magic she wants to see in the world. The Last Fallen Star is her middle grade debut. In a previous life she used to be a cooking show host, and she once ran a business that turned children’s drawings into plushies. When she’s not lost in her imagination, you’ll find Graci drinking flat whites, eating ramyeon, and most likely hugging a dog (or ideally, many). She lives in New Zealand with her husband and daughter. Follow her on Twitter @gracikim and Instagram @gracikimwrites.

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3 winners will win a finished copy of THE LAST FALLEN STAR, US Only.

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Week One:

5/1/2021YA Books CentralExcerpt

Week Two:

5/4/2021Amani’s ReviewsReview
5/5/2021Little Red ReadsReview
5/6/2021The Bookwyrm’s DenReview
5/7/2021BookHounds YAExcerpt
5/8/2021A Court of Coffee and BooksReview

Week Three:

5/9/2021Kait Plus BooksExcerpt
5/13/2021History from a Woman’s PerspectiveReview

Week Four:

5/16/2021Fyrekatz BlogReview
5/17/2021Haunted By BooksReview
5/19/2021The Momma SpotReview
5/21/2021Bookwyrming ThoughtsReview
5/22/2021Book BriefsReview

Week Five:

5/23/2021Rajiv’s ReviewsReview
5/25/2021Emelie’s BooksReview
5/26/2021Eli to the nthReview
5/28/2021Books and ZebrasReview
5/29/2021YA Book NerdReview

Week Six:

5/30/2021two points of interestReview
5/31/2021Lifestyle of MeReview

Book Tour: High School Musical: The Road Trip by Melissa de la Cruz

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE ROAD TRIP by Melissa de la Cruz Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Pub. Date: May 4, 2021
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 272

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, B&NiBooks, KoboTBD, Bookshop.org


An original novel inspired by the hit Disney+ television series HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE MUSICAL, by the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Descendants series, Melissa de la Cruz.

Join everyone’s favorite Wildcats from the Disney+ smash hit original series High school Musical: The Musical: The Series in this novel by New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz.

On the heels of their wildly successful run of High School Musical, the gang learns of a can’t-miss opportunity—a High School Musical convention in the next state. There’s something for everyone: panels about mounting your next hit show, cafeteria-tray-dance workshops, Wildcat cosplay, and even a special appearance from the pooch who played Sharpay’s dog (well, one of her puppies, that is).

Ready to hit the road, the crew immediately begins making plans. Nini can’t wait to use the weekend to show how much she cares for Ricky (especially since they just got back together). Kourtney debates signing up for a singing workshop (especially if she’s maybe, just maybe, considering auditioning for the next show), and Gina and Ashlyn decide it’ll be the perfect trial run for living together (especially because Gina has never actually had a friendship last this long). Carlos can’t wait to help Miss Jenn prep for the spring musical, even if Seb has to stay behind to help with the family farm. But car breakdowns, late starts, and a lost E.J. throw a wrench in their plans. 

Will the East Highers get the weekend getaway of their dreams? Or will the bumps on the road get the better of them?


A breezy and fun read, the book contains chapters that offer pithy first-person accounts from each character, including quirky Miss Jenn; Carlos and his boyfriend, Seb; recently reunited couple Nini and Ricky and their BFFs, Kourtney and Big Red; popular senior E.J. and his songwriter cousin, Ashlyn; and talented triple threat Gina. The plot includes references to the series and themes straight from the musical: nurturing your talent, showing others how much they matter, and acknowledging the importance of teamwork. Although race isn’t mentioned overtly, the characters are cued as racially diverse, following the casting of the TV show. Fans will appreciate the inside jokes, but explanations in the text make it accessible even to those unfamiliar with the program.

A lighthearted and charming read.—Kirkus Reviews.




Let me bring you up to speed.

High School Musical: The Musical—over. Huge success. HUGE. Kiss-and-cry backstage, then in the foyer with all our dumbstruck parents still waving their glitter signs and autographed programs, their hair crazy with Robotics Club confetti.

Cast-party time. Plan A is go crazy at Ashlyn’s—part deux—but cast + crew + hangers-on = way too many people. Wouldn’t want anything smashed, broken, or spilled. So Miss Jenn suggests we do what East High musical casts have always done: go to Denny’s on West 500th and pretend it’s a diner on the corner of Hollywood and Vine.

If we can make our school gym into a theater and a skateboarder into our star, then we can turn a Denny’s in Salt Lake City into Radio City Music Hall—especially when E.J.’s father is paying for all the milkshakes and onion rings.

We’re all there (in this together, right?) screeching and singing and making Miss Jenn do her Is that the last apple? line again when my phone dings. It’s not my sweet Seb, because he’s holding court nearby—still in his Sharpay makeup—reprising his big number with the help of some built-in plastic seating and E.J.’s knee.

It’s something much, much better. An HSM alert!

Picked out the colors for your dressing room yet?

One week till the HSM Convention in Jackson Hole!

What. The. Wildcats.

How did I miss this? I’ve been so consumed with our own show—choreography, drama, homecoming, Miss Jenn almost getting fired, the theater burning down, break-ups, make-ups, more drama, having to go on as a last-minute understudy and say things like bro—I haven’t been paying attention to my HSM alerts. I didn’t want to mess with the flow and now: Oh no!

“Miss Jenn.” I grab her arm and she twirls so fast she takes out half the basketball team with her mermaid waves. “We have to do this.”

She stares at my phone, her blue eyes wide.

“Next weekend?” she says, and pulls out her own phone. It has a green cover to remind her of when she was the understudy for Glinda in Wicked—I think it was in Peoria. Miss Jenn is pretty speedy with Google searches: You’d never guess she grew up in the old flip-phone days when people still used paper maps and never took pictures of their food.

“Panels,” she says, scrolling with one pink fingernail. “Vocal workshops. Choreography workshops. Cosplay. And . . . oh! Oh!”

“What is it, Miss Jenn?” She looks like she’s about to faint. That, or hyperventilate.

“Lucas Grabeel,” she whispers. “Lucas Grabeel is going to be there, in person. Not a dream, Carlos. Actually in person!”

“Um, a dream?” I ask, and Miss Jenn whips her phone away.

“I have to go.”

“Now?” There are more curly fries coming. Nobody leaves a party when curly fries are on the way.

“I mean, we have to go. To Jackson. Help me up.” Miss Jenn elbows Seb off his perch and waves her hands to get everyone’s attention. This doesn’t work.

“Hey! Everyone! Quiet!” E.J. shouts in his best captain-of-everything voice, but that also doesn’t work. Some of the chorus-line tap-dancing doesn’t work, though it does bring the manager out to ask us to “Mind the floors, kids.” And Gina leaping so high in the air she practically brushes the ceiling with her fingertips—no, that doesn’t work either.

Finally Kourtney clambers up next to Miss Jenn and starts singing “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” at the top of her voice. Everyone’s whooping and clapping and then Kourtney stops mid-line.

“Miss Jenn has something to say.”

“Speech! Speech!”

“Not a speech,” says Miss Jenn. I haven’t seen her face this pale since the day the principal wanted to fire her. “An opportunity. You know how I always say to trust the process?”

More clapping and whooping. We have to shush everyone all over again.

“Well, sometimes you have to trust providence as well. You have to trust fate. You have to trust that the universe will provide.”

“Has she got a Broadway callback or something?” Seb mutters in my ear.

“You’re not leaving, Miss Jenn?” calls Nini. It’s the first time she’s taken her eyes off Ricky since we got here.

“Not leaving, Nini. Going. We’re all going.”

“To Disneyland?” asks Big Red, and everyone laughs.

“To Jackson Hole,” Miss Jenn announces, and no one’s laughing or whooping now.

“Skiing?” someone says, but no one looks too enthusiastic. They’re all thinking about the curly fries, which are—let’s face it—more exciting than Miss Jenn’s announcement. She’s selling it the wrong way.

“You guys, wait!” I shout. “It’s a High School Musical convention—in Jackson Hole. Next weekend!”

Now everyone’s talking. People are practically bouncing off the walls. I wish they’d put this amount of energy into their dance rehearsals.

“It would be the most amazing thing ever,” Ashlyn says. “Meet-and-greets with some of the original cast and crew? Wow.”

“But how would we get there?” Natalie asks. I hope she’s not planning to bring her emotional-support hamster. The last thing we need is for that thing to escape in another state.

“Yeah,” says Ashlyn. “I mean, E.J. can drive because he’s old, but—”

“I can drive the school van,” says Miss Jenn. “Mr. Mazzara gets it all the time for his robotics whatnots. I’ll send permission slips to all your parents. I mean, they have to say yes. After seeing you all on the stage tonight—”

“Well, the gym,” says Natalie. “Strictly speaking.”

“It’ll be a theater field trip,” Miss Jenn continues. “A celebration of our amazing show. Research and nourishment for our creative souls.”

She starts wobbling on her high heels with excitement, and Ricky helps her down from the chair. He’s beaming so wide, his face almost splits in two.

“We have to make it happen,” he tells her, and the dog tag around his neck glints in the fluorescent light. Since when does Ricky Bowen wear necklaces?

“Do you think Principal Gutierrez will agree?” Nini asks. Her face is still shining from the night’s success. I mean, we did kill out there tonight. “Will we have to take time off school?”

“We really can’t,” Natalie tells Miss Jenn. “We have tests, and after school we have to rehearse every day.”

Natalie’s a killjoy, but she’s right. We’ve promised to do a charity show on Christmas Eve to raise money; we have to help rebuild the school’s burnt-out theater, after the fire that was (whisper) caused by Miss Jenn and Mr. Mazzara.

“And it will take us so long to get there,” Natalie says.

“Five hours,” E.J. reads from his phone. “That’s the driving time. It’s nothing. I’ve driven farther for archery lessons.”

“Plus two hours when we get stuck in the snow,” says Ashlyn. “You know, after the blizzard rolls in.”

“We’re driving a few hours north,” I tell her, “not taking the Donner Pass.”

“So we leave right after school next Friday,” says Miss Jenn, eyes fixed on some distant spot, as though she’s about to begin a power ballad. “And if we limit ourselves to one rest stop, we’ll make it in time for some of the opening sessions that night.”

“It ends on Saturday night,” Kourtney says, scrolling down the site that practically every one of us is reading right now. “That’s a shame. The final session is a group sing-along.”

“We don’t need to sing it,” Ricky agrees, grinning at Nini. “We just lived it.”

For someone who totally missed the boat on the phenomenon that is HSM—i.e., did not grow up watching it with his mom, singing it in the car, and reenacting dance moves on the down-low in our high school cafeteria—Ricky is all about it now. I used to think his feet were glued to his skateboard. Maybe it’s because being in the musical brought him and Nini back together, and he’s already thinking about the spring musical and his next chance to stare into her eyes under the spotlight. He better watch out: E.J. may be over his selfless kick by then. Seniors in their last semester can get grabby with roles. They come over all sentimental about leaving school and this being their Last Chance Ever. Ricky should be on his guard. I mean, hasn’t he seen HSM3?

Miss Jenn mutters something about going back to work right away to e-mail all our parents and break into the admin office to book the van. I hope she’s joking about that last part. She’s out the door before we can stop her.

“There’s even a songwriting workshop,” Ashlyn says to no one in particular, smiling at her phone. “I have to do that. I have to.”

“I don’t see any stage-makeup workshops,” Kourtney says, and Nini mock-punches her.

“You need to go to one of the singing workshops,” she tells Kourtney. “People need to hear your voice. You know what Miss Jenn told you—she said you were the best singer in Utah.”

Northern Utah.” Kourtney rolls her eyes. “And she didn’t say anything about southern Wyoming.”

“Gina, you can come?” Nini says, and hugs her close. Things are way more chill between the girls these days. That’s the magic of musicals, people! “You don’t have to go back to DC right away, do you?”

Gina does some weird thing with her head that makes her look like one of those fake head-bobbing dogs in the back of old people’s cars. She and Ashlyn exchange glances.

“Maybe,” she says. “I hope so.”

“Road trip!” shouts Big Red, and everyone starts leaping around and shouting again. At this rate they’ll have no voices for the convention next weekend, whether they want to join the sing-along or not.

It’s only then that I notice something strange. Seb hasn’t said a word, and he’s not looking at his phone.

“Can you go?” I ask him. Seb looks down at the floor.

“I don’t know,” he says. “It’s a really busy time on the farm now. We have the last stock sale of the year on Saturday. It was a big deal for so many of my family members to come see the show tonight. I don’t know if they can spare me that day.”

Just like that, my excitement disappears. Not even an HSM convention will be fun if Seb isn’t there to hang out with.

“Hey,” he says, and takes my hand. “Maybe something’ll work out. Remember what Miss Jenn always says.”

“ ‘Trust the process’?”

“Nope.” He shakes his head and smiles up at me. “ ‘Is that the last apple?’ ”

We both laugh, but what I think is this: How can all these Cinderellas go to the ball? We’ve got to make some magic happen, people. This isn’t a game. It’s High School Musical.

Okay—it’s High School Musical: The Convention. We’re going to Wyoming, not a palace, and we need a van, not a pumpkin coach. A boy can dream, can’t he?


Melissa de la Cruz (www.melissa-delacruz.com) is the author of the #1 New York Times best-selling Descendants series, as well as many other best-selling novels, including all the books in the Blue Bloods series: Blue BloodsMasqueradeRevelationsThe Van Alen Legacy, Keys to the Repository, Misguided Angel, Bloody Valentine, Lost in Time, and Gates of Paradise. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter.

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Giveaway Details:

3 winners will win a finished copy of HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE ROAD TRIP, US Only.

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Week One:


Week Two:

5/2/2021YA Books CentralExcerpt
5/3/2021Living in a BookworldExcerpt
5/4/2021BookHounds YAExcerpt
5/5/2021Perusewithcoffee (blog)Review
5/6/2021Musing of SoulsReview
5/7/2021Kait Plus BooksExcerpt
5/8/2021The Book ViewReview

Week Three:

5/10/2021Lifestyle of MeReview
5/11/2021Emelie’s BooksReview
5/13/2021Fire and IceReview
5/14/2021Shelf LoveReview or Excerpt

Week Four:

5/16/2021Margie’s Must ReadsReview
5/17/2021Amani’s ReviewsReview
5/18/2021two points of interestReview
5/19/2021Haunted By BooksReview
5/22/2021The Reading WordsmithReview

Week Five:

5/25/2021Rajiv’s ReviewsReview
5/26/2021Struck by StoriesReview
5/27/2021Fyrekatz BlogReview
5/29/2021Do You Dog-ear?Review

Week Six:

5/30/2021A Dream Within A DreamExcerpt
5/31/2021Lady HawkeyeExcerpt

Book Tour: It Happened on Thunder Road by Susan Antony

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the IT HAPPENED ON THUNDER ROAD by Susan Antony Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!  



Author: Susan Antony

Pub. Date: April 12, 2021

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Pages: 292

Formats: Paperback, eBook 

Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD, Bookshop.org


When Emmy Russo returns to high school in Moncks Corner, South Carolina after summer break, she discovers some changes. First: Mom has a boyfriend. Second: the cute new student, Charlie Fields, is a Rockabilly greaser with a gang who obeys his every command. Third: attractive Keir Harper wants to be more than just her best friend. And fourth: a perplexed Emmy soon finds herself drawn to two extremely different boys. How do you choose between sweet and smoldering?

Then tragedy strikes on desolate Thunder Road. Strange things start happening, with Emmy in the middle of it all. Intent on finding the truth, she must fight for her heart, her life, maybe even her soul. Because someone wants to possess all of Emmy. And they will be together, no matter what the cost. For eternity.


Susan Antony is an IT by day, hip-shaker and writer by night, artist whenever possible, and an

internet addict. She lives in the sunny south with her teenage son and two Cairn Terriers. Cherokee Summer placed first in the Missouri Romance Writers of America “Gateway to the Best” contest, was a 2019 OKRWA finalist, was a 2020 Author Shout Recommended Read, took 1st in the 2020 Write Touch Readers Award, and took the bronze metal in the 2020 Readers Favorite Contest.

It Happened on Thunder Road placed 1st in The Southeastern Writers Association 2020 Contest.

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1 winner will win a $10 Amazon GC, International.

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