HER SECOND CHANCE COWBOY By Makenna Lee – Release Day Review

 

 

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HER SECOND CHANCE COWBOY

By

Makenna Lee

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Wealthy cowboy, James MacLachlan, is content running his massive family ranch and starting an equine therapy program for special needs children. After his mother died in childbirth, and witnessing his father’s destruction at the loss of true love, James sticks to casual affairs. Marriage and children are risks he won’t take.

Reese Turner visits Cypress Creek, Texas, to complete a photo assignment for National Geographic and buy back her grandparents’ cottage. After disastrous romances, she’s sworn off men to focus on her career. Marriage and the babies she longs for can wait. When she runs into an old flame, she decides she can live out a fantasy, then leave town to pursue her dreams.

But love doesn’t play by the rules…

Buy here:

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Apple iBooks     Kobo

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20200720_032257712_iOSFilled with tropes (small-town/return to hometown/second-chance/fling), a touch of mystery, a dash of intrigue, vivid imagery, and fascinating characters, Her Second Chance Cowboy is a highly polished debut by Makenna Lee. Reese and James have such intense chemistry from page one, their decision to have a summer fling is inevitable. Of course, the real story is how they turn that temporary arrangement into a long-term commitment. Along the way, they have to deal with past hurts, lack of trust, miscommunication, incompatible dreams, and external forces that seek to separate them. Good thing, there’s also a fun treasure hunt that helps strengthen their bond.

Overall, this is a light read with some sweet steam. Being the first book of a series, Her Second Chance Cowboy suffers a little from multiple subplots and the introduction of numerous characters who could have their own stories someday. These made the book longer than it has to be and may have taken the focus away from Reese and James at various parts of the book. Aside from these, this promises to be a series worth following.

4 out of 5 stars

 

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MakennaLee

Makenna Lee is an award-winning romance author living in the Texas Hill Country with her real-life hero and their two children. Her oldest son has Down syndrome and taught her to appreciate the little things. He inspired her first Harlequin book A Sheriff’s Star. Her writing journey began when she mentioned all her story ideas and her husband asked why she wasn’t writing them down. The next day she bought a laptop, started her first book, and knew she’d found her passion. Makenna is often drinking coffee while writing, reading, or plotting a new story. She enjoys renaissance festivals, nature photography, studying herbal medicine, and usually listens to Celtic music while writing. Makenna writes for Harlequin and Entangled Publishing and believes everyone deserves a happy ending. Her wish is to write books that touch your heart, making you feel, think, and dream.

Contact Information: 

www.makennalee.com
https://twitter.com/MakennaLeeBooks
https://www.facebook.com/MakennaLeeAuthor
https://www.instagram.com/makennaleewriter/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08B56JF9Nhttps://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/her-second-chance-cowboy-makenna-lee/1137176571https://books.apple.com/us/book/her-second-chance-cowboy/id1518594008https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/her-second-chance-cowboy

A SWEET MESS by Jayci Lee – Release Day Review and Giveaway

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A SWEET MESS

by

Jayci Lee

 

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A Sweet Mess_coverKorean-American author Jayci Lee delights with A Sweet Mess, a delicious and light-hearted romantic comedy that readers will devour and ask for more.

Aubrey Choi loves living in her small town nestled in the foothills of California, running her highly successful bakery away from the watch of her strict Korean parents. When a cake mix-up and a harsh review threaten all of her hard work and her livelihood, she never thought the jaded food critic would turn out to be her one-night stand. And she sure as hell never thought she’d see the gorgeous Korean hunk again. But when Landon Kim waltzes into her bakery trying to clean up the mess he had a huge hand in making, Aubrey is torn between throwing and hearing him out.

When she hears his plan to help save her business, Aubrey knows that spending three weeks in California wine country working with Landon is a sure recipe for disaster. Her head is telling her to take the chance to save her bakery while her heart—and her hormones—are at war on whether to give him a second chance. And it just so happens that Landon’s meddling friends want them to spend those three weeks as close as possible…by sharing a villa.

When things start heating up, both in and out of the kitchen, Aubrey will have to make a choice—to stick it out or risk her heart.

Buy this book: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250621108

 

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Asian-American main characters, lots of hunger-inducing food descriptions, and classic romance tropes. How can I turn that down? That’s essentially what I write too.

I like the choice of having the Korean leads be beautiful people in successful occupations–an influential food critic in Landon and a talented baker in Aubrey. I like that this story is light, focusing on the travails of a romantic relationship instead of societal struggles that minorities face in the US. We have too many of those stories and not enough of this kind. The angst comes from the yearning, the risking of professional reputation versus personal desires.

While there’s instalust, the sex scenes are sweet and not explicit. The food scenes are sumptuous, so don’t read this hungry. Friendships are tight and mothers are honored. Overall, Ms. Lee’s storytelling is enjoyable. She handled one of my most disliked tropes quite well and the push-and-pull was just enough to cause tension but not too much to make me give up on the couple.

As the title suggests, this book is both sweet and a little bit of a mess. In the early copy I read, there were several times when the transitions between Aubrey’s and Landon’s points of view weren’t smooth and the time jumps weren’t clear. Also, the dual daddy issues were too much and the cover, while cute, didn’t reflect the ethnicity of the lead characters. These are minor issues and don’t stop me from recommending A Sweet Mess to Romance readers who are looking for books that reflect the diversity of the society we live in today.

Three-half-stars

 

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Jayci Lee_Photo Credit Nichanh Nicole PhotographyJAYCI LEE writes poignant, sexy, and laugh-out-loud romance every free second she can scavenge and is semi-retired from her fifteen-year career as a defense litigator. She loves food, wine, and travelling, and incidentally so do her characters. Jayci lives in sunny California with her tall-dark-and-handsome husband, two amazing boys with boundless energy, and a fluffy rescue whose cuteness is a major distraction. She is the author of A Sweet Mess.

Website: https://jaycilee.com/
Twitter: @authorjaycilee
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjaycilee

 

 

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Macmillan is giving one of my followers a digital copy of Jayci Lee’s A Sweet Mess. All you have to do to enter is Follow @carpediemchronicles on Instagram and Like my bookstagram of the book. Comment there or return here to let me know you’ve entered. I will draw the winner on Tuesday, July 21 at 12 noon Central time.

 

A DELIGHTFUL LITTLE BOOK ON AGING by Stephanie Raffelock – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

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A DELIGHTFUL LITTLE BOOK ON AGING

by

Stephanie Raffelock

Genre: Inspirational / Spiritual / Essays / Self-Help
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication Date: April 28, 2020
Number of Pages: 119 pages

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Synopsis

ADLBOA book coverAll around us, older women flourish in industry, entertainment, and politics. Do they know something that we don’t, or are we all just trying to figure it out? For so many of us, our hearts and minds still feel that we are twenty-something young women who can take on the world. But in our bodies, the flexibility and strength that were once taken for granted are far from how we remember them. Every day we have to rise above the creaky joints and achy knees to earn the opportunity of moving through the world with a modicum of grace.

Yet we do rise, because it’s a privilege to grow old, and every single day is a gift. Peter Pan’s mantra was, “Never grow up”; our collective mantra should be, “Never stop growing.” This collection of user-friendly stories, essays, and philosophies invites readers to celebrate whatever age they are with a sense of joy and purpose and with a spirit of gratitude.

 

PRAISE for A Delightful Little Book on Aging:

“Where are the elders? The wise women, the crones, the guardians of truth here to gently, lovingly, and playfully guide us towards the fulfillment of our collective destiny? It turns out that they are right here, in our midst, and Stephanie Raffelock is showcasing the reclamation of aging as a moment of becoming, no longer a dreaded withering into insignificance. A Delightful Little Book on Aging lays down new and beautiful tracks for the journey into our richest, deepest, and wildest years.” – Kelly Brogan, MD, author of the New York Times bestseller A Mind of Your Own

“A helpful, uplifting work for readers handling the challenges of growing older.” – Kirkus Reviews

CLICK TO PURCHASE:

  Amazon  IndieBound

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Live and love in great fulness

 

Review_preview
ADLBOA bookstagram 2Aptly titled, A Delightful Little Book on Aging lays out a joyful, thoughtful, easily applicable approach to handling the advancing years with dignity, grace, and gratitude. Ms. Raffelock wrote with so much wisdom, authority, and charm, I found myself highlighting numerous passages that resonated with me. By the time I finished reading, nearly the entire inside of the book was covered in light green color (I chose a highlighter that matched the cover) .

Arranged in four sections–Grief, Reclamation, Vision, and Laughter–the book is filled with personal anecdotes that illustrated the author’s message and lists of advice gleaned from experience and lessons learned through the years.  Of the anecdotes, my favorite was the one about the elderly couple who danced. “They showed us what wringing every last bit of life out of the cloth of our existence looks like.”

ADLBOA bookstagram 1Of all the advice, these stood out for me:

  • Keep moving – Walk, dance, exercise, do yoga. “You gotta keep moving to be relevant.”
  • Be authentic – Grieve, say no, accept failure, put yourself first, speak up. “Stand in the light of your truth.”
  • Have friends – Engage in community, volunteer, mentor, connect. “To care about someone beyond yourself is a fulfillment of our shared destiny.”
  • Practice gratitude – Breathe thanks, name the gifts and write them down, reflect. “Gratitude practice is a way of opening the heart to appreciation and hopeful possibility.”

I’m turning forty-eight this year. I have heart palpitations and arthritis. My hair has silver strands. Soon, I will have hot flashes. This is the perfect time for me to read this book. It reinforces what I already know and reminds me of things I’ve forgotten to include in my journey to the golden years. So, yes, I’m recommending this book. Join the giveaway AND buy the book. Buy as many copies as you can afford. It’s the perfect present to yourself, to friends and loved ones. Give it to them now. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Carpe diem. Seize the day.

5 stars

AboutTheAuthor

Stephanie RaffelockStephanie Raffelock is the author of A Delightful Little Book on Aging  (She Writes Press, April 2020). A graduate of Naropa University’s program in Writing and Poetics, she has penned articles for numerous publications, including the Aspen Times, the Rogue Valley Messenger, Nexus Magazine, Omaha Lifestyles, Care2.com, and SixtyandMe.com. Stephanie is part of the positive-aging movement, which encourages viewing age as a beautiful and noble passage, the fruition of years that birth wisdom and deep gratitude for all of life.  She’s a recent transplant to Austin, Texas, where she enjoys life with her husband, Dean, and their Labrador retriever, Jeter (yes, named after the great Yankee shortstop).

  Website ║ Facebook ║ Instagram ║ Amazon

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GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

TWO WINNERS: Signed hardcover copy of A Delightful Little Book on Aging + a set of 50 pocket inspirations
ONE WINNER: A set of 50 pocket inspirations
JULY 7-19, 2020
(US ONLY)
ADLBOA giveaway

Click on photo to enter giveaway.

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Wonder and delight for life, this is what wisdom is.

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7/9/20 Notable Quotable That’s What She’s Reading
7/9/20 Review StoreyBook Reviews
7/10/20 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
7/10/20 BONUS Post Hall Ways Blog
7/11/20 Author Video All the Ups and Downs
7/12/20 Guest Post Chapter Break Book Blog
7/13/20 Author Interview Texas Book Lover
7/13/20 Review Forgotten Winds
7/14/20 Review Momma on the Rocks
7/15/20 Podcast The Clueless Gent
7/15/20 Review Kelly Well Read
7/16/20 Review It’s Not All Gravy
7/17/20 Guest Post Missus Gonzo
7/17/20 Review Sydney Young, Stories
7/18/20 Review Books and Broomsticks
7/18/20 Review Reading by Moonlight

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THE HUNGRY READERS GAMES 2020

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I’m participating in The Hungry Readers Games 2020 organized by Mary Smith of @chicklitshop. It’s a reading contest Hunger Games-style from June 1st to August 31st and I intend to be the Champion! 🏹🏆

the hungry readers games rules

🏹🏆 Two Challenges and Two Ways to Win

Competition 1 – Power Reader Challenge:

1 pt. will be awarded for novels (200+ pages!) 📚📚
0.5 pts. for novellas (199 pages or less!) 📚

Competition 2: Bonus Points Challenge – #HungerGames style! 😱🙈😱

✔️ Read an ARC a week (up to 3 max per week) = Accept 1 Bonus Point or Go to GamesMistress @LauraHeffernanBooks & Dice Roll for 0 – 5 Bonus Points! 😮
✔️ Write a Review a Week = 5 Bonus Points 😍
✔️ Write a Blog or IG Book Post a week = 3 Bonus Points. Keep them, or Go to the GamesMistress & Roll for Double or Nothing! 🤔
✔️ Gain Lifelines –> Every 15 new Followers = 5 Bonus Points 🤩
✔️ Gain Sponsors –> Every 5 Sponsors = 1 Bonus Points

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Week 1 (June 1-7) Report:

A Dark and Stormy Knight by Kerrigan Byrne – 2 points

  • Novel (eBook) finished on June 1 – 1 point
  • ARC – 1 bonus point
  • Review posted on Goodreads, BookBub, and Amazon on June 4
  • Bookstagram on June 3
  • Sponsor #1 – Kerrigan Byrne

The Outlaw’s Daughter by Margaret Brownley – 10 points

  • Novel (paperback) read between June 1-2 – 1 point
  • Advance reading copy – 1 bonus point
  • Review posted on Goodreads, BookBub, NetGalley, Amazon, and B&N – 5 bonus points
  • Blog and Instagram post- 3 bonus points
  • Sponsor #2 – Margaret Brownley via NetGalley

The Scoundrel’s New Con by Catherine Stein – 2 points

How to Seduce a Spy by Catherine Stein – 1 point

  • Novel (audiobook) finished on June 5 – 1 point
  • Review posted on Audible and Goodreads

Alpha Night by Nalini Singh – 1 point

  • Novel (eBook) read between June 5-7 – 1 point
  • ARC
  • Review posted on Goodreads, BookBub, Edelweiss, and Amazon
  • Bookstagram
  • Sponsor #4 – Nalini Singh via Edelweiss

Week 1 = 18 points (including bonus roll)


Week 2 (June 8-14) Report

Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho – 20 points

  • Novel (eBook) read between June 8 to 12 – 1 point
  • ARC – 1 bonus point
  • Challenge #1 – 10 bonus points
  • Review posted on Goodreads, BookBub, Amazon, Litsy, Edelweiss – 5 bonus points
  • Bookstagram – 3 bonus points
  • Sponsor #5 – Lauren Ho via Edelweiss

Seeds of Desire by Jessie Scott – 1 point

  • Novel (eBook) finished on June 13 – 1 point
  • Review posted on Goodreads
  • Sponsor #6 – Jessie Scott

Dance Away With Me by Susan Elizabeth Phillips – 2 points

  • Novel (eBook) read between June 13 and14 – 1 point
  • ARC – 1 bonus point
  • Review posted on Goodreads, BookBub, Edelweiss
  • Sponsor #7 – SEP via Edelweiss

The AI Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole – 0.5 points

  • Novella (audiobook) read between June 7 to 14 – 0.5 point
  • Review posted on Audible and Goodreads

Week 2 Total – 23.5 points

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Week 3 (June 15-21) Report

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Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras25 points

  • Novel (eBook) finished on June 19 – 1 point
  • ARC – 1 bonus point
  • Review posted on Goodreads, BookBub, NetGalley, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Litsy – 5 bonus points
  • Bookstagram – 3 bonus points
  • Challenge 2 (OwnVoices Dinner Book Challenge) – 15 points
  • Sponsor #8 – Priscilla Oliveras via NetGalley

Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh – 2 points

  • Novel (eBook) re-read on June 20 – 1 point
  • ARC – 1 bonus point
  • Review posted on Goodreads
  • Sponsor – Nalini Singh via NetGalley

The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles – 1 point

  • Novel (audiobook and eBook combo) read between June 19-21 – 1 point
  • Review posted on Goodreads

Additional bonus points – 2 points

  • ARC of Seeds of Desire – 1 bonus point
  • 5 sponsors – 1 bonus point

Total Week 3 – 27 points (after -3 for Double or Nothing)

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Week 4 (June 22-28) Report

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Once More Upon a Time by Roshani Chokshi – 0.5 points

  • Novella (audiobook) read between June 22-23 – 0.5 points
  • Review posted on Goodreads and Audible

Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin by Mariana Zapata – 1 point

  • Novel (audiobook) read between June 24-27 – 1 point
  • Review posted on Goodreads and Audible

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert – 10 points

  • Novel (eBook) finished on June 27 – 1 point
  • ARC – 1 bonus point
  • Review posted on Goodreads, Edelweiss, BookBub, Litsy – 5 bonus points
  • Bookstagram – 3 bonus points
  • Sponsor #9 – Talia Hibbert via Edelweiss

Simmer Down by Sarah Smith – 32 points

  • Novel (eBook) read between June 27-28 – 1 point
  • ARC – 1 bonus point
  • Review posted on Goodreads, NetGalley, BookBub, Litsy
  • Bookstagram 
  • Challenge #3 Chef & A Dream Book Challenge – 20 bonus points + 10 bonus points for Own Voices
  • Sponsor #10 – Sarah Smith via NetGalley

Additional points – 3 points

  • 5 sponsors – 1 bonus point
  • 2 turns of the dice – 2 bonus points

Total Week 4 – 46.5 points 

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Rest of June Report

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Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashley – 6 points

  • Novel (audiobook) read from June 29 to 30 – 1 point
  • Review posted on Goodreads and Audible – 5 bonus points

Additional Points – 10 points

  • 15 new Facebook Likes – 5 bonus points
  • 15 new Instagram Followers – 5 bonus points

Deductions

  • Skipping Challenge #4 – -20 points

Total “Week 5” – 4 points

TOTAL JUNE POINTS – 111

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THE OUTLAW’S DAUGHTER by Margaret Brownley – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

 

THE OUTLAW’S DAUGHTER

HAYWIRE BRIDES, BOOK 3

by

MARGARET BROWNLEY

Western / Historical Fiction / Clean and Wholesome Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date of Publication: May 26, 2020
Number of Pages: 384

Scroll down for Giveaway!

 

Synopsis

TOD book coverHe may be a Texas Ranger, but he only has eyes for the outlaw’s beautiful daughter . . . 

Texas Ranger Matt Taggert is on the trail of a wanted man. He has good reason to believe that Ellie-May’s late husband was involved in a stagecoach robbery, and he’s here to see justice done. But when he arrives in town, he discovers the thief has become a local hero . . . and his beautiful young widow isn’t too happy to see some lawman out to tarnish her family’s newly spotless reputation.

Ellie-May’s shaken by her encounter with the ranger. Having grown up an outlaw’s daughter, she’ll do anything to keep her children safe—and if that means hardening her heart against the handsome lawman’s smiles, then so be it. Because she knows Matt isn’t about to give up his search. He’s out to redeem himself and find proof that Ellie-May’s husband wasn’t the saint everyone claims . . . even if it means losing the love neither expected to discover along the way.

CLICK TO PURCHASE!

AMAZON     BARNES & NOBLE

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Review_preview

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Whenever I read a book by Margaret Brownley, it’s always exactly what I needed at the time. Cowboy Charm School provided a humorous break from the controversies in the fall of 2018. In 2020, when there is widespread distrust against those who work in law enforcement, The Outlaw’s Daughter allows the readers to visit a time when people in the profession were like Texas Ranger Matt Taggert — honest, honorable, determined to fulfill his sworn duty while caring deeply for the innocent family members whose lives will be affected adversely by the justice he seeks.

From the first chapter, the stakes were set high for Matt and Ellie-May. Matt was investigating her husband for a possible connection to a crime. Ellie-May was resolute in trying to keep her children’s father’s reputation sterling. She didn’t want them to suffer as she did from society’s ill-treatment because of who her father was.

The two main characters were at cross purposes for most of the book, I wasn’t sure how the author would bring about their happily ever after. Of course she did and it was a satisfactory resolution as far as I’m concerned. Such is Ms. Brownley’s writing prowess that my belief regarding Neal’s innocence closely matched Ellie-May’s in that there was a point that it wavered slightly.

There’s a lot to love in this book. The characters, including secondary ones like Lionel and Alicia, Anvil, and Jesse James, are sympathetic, the storytelling is topnotch, the romance is sweet and natural. If not for some repetitive elements that lengthened the story unnecessarily, a bit of an ineffectual villain, and parroting of oppressive gender roles  Ellie-May had to adhere to, I’d have given this the full marks.

Content advisory: six-year old child in peril and handled firearm, alcoholism, child neglect

4 out of 5 stars

AboutTheAuthor

Margaret Brownley

New York Times bestselling author Margaret Brownley has penned more than forty-six novels and novellas.

A two-time Romance Writers of American RITA® finalist, Margaret has also written for a TV soap and is a recipient of the Romantic Times Pioneer Award. Not bad for someone who flunked eighth-grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.

 

  WEBSITE    FACEBOOK    TWITTER  
  AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE    BOOKBUB   
  GOODREADS AUTHOR PAGE   

 

—————————————

GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

TWO WINNERS each receive signed copies of the first two books in the Haywire Brides series, Cowboy Charm School and The Cowboy Meets His Match
May 26-June 5, 2020
(US ONLY)

TOD giveaway

Click on photo to enter

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5/26/20 Promo All the Ups and Downs
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5/28/20 BONUS Post Hall Ways Blog
5/28/20 Review That’s What She’s Reading
5/29/20 Review Books and Broomsticks
5/29/20 Review The Adventures of a Travelers Wife
5/30/20 Review Book Fidelity
5/31/20 Review Bibliotica
6/1/20 Review The Page Unbound
6/1/20 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
6/2/20 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
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THE SCOUNDREL’S NEW CON By Catherine Stein – Excerpt And Review

The Scoundrel's New Con graphic

Happy Release Day to Catherine Stein’s The Scoundrel’s New Con, a retelling of The Emperor’s New Clothes, part of the Lady Goosebury’s Tales series from various authors.

 

BLURB

The Scoundrel's New Con cover

He’s pulling the con of a lifetime. Unless she exposes the naked truth.

Conman Jack Weaver has his eyes on the prize. The arrogant Earl of Bardrick has offered five thousand pounds to anyone who can prove his castle is haunted. With money like that, Jack can ensure he’ll never end up on the streets or in prison again. And his spirit photography skills are just the trick needed to convince all of the earl’s houseguests to believe in something unseen.

Investigative journalist Tess Cochran believes in one thing: the truth. She’s not going to let phony ghosts and trick photographs swindle anyone, even a snobbish aristocrat like Bardrick. And she’s certainly not going to let herself be swayed by Jack Weaver’s charming smile and mischievous antics.

When Jack and Tess stumble upon one of the castle’s many secrets, they realize something nefarious lurks behind the earl’s competition. To solve the mystery, these rivals forge a reluctant partnership. As they strip down the facts, Jack and Tess begin to find that the deepest truths may be concealed in their hearts.

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EXCERPT

Weaver slid into the empty seat beside Tess as silently as the ghosts he supposedly photographed. Goosebumps rose on her flesh. The air seemed to hum with energy. And none of it had anything to do with the spiritualist at the front of the room. No, this was far too corporeal.

You did this to yourself, Tess.

A few single empty places remained in the rows closer to the performance. She could have taken any of them, and given herself a better view. Instead, she’d chosen the empty back row. It gave her the chance to slip away at any time, she’d told herself.

“Good evening, Tess,” he murmured. On his lips, her name sounded sensual. Illicitly enticing.

“Not photographing any longer?” she whispered.

“It’s past sunset. All the candles in this castle would give me nothing more than a blur on the plate.”

She looked at him just long enough to give him a sweet smile. “And here I thought that’s exactly what you wanted.”

“On the contrary.” He edged closer, until no more than an inch separated his body from hers. “I prefer a crisp, sharp photograph. One that exposes every detail.”

Thank the Lord the entire room was fixated on Rowland and his little pile of burning papers, or they might have noticed Tess combusting in the back row. Her simple dress felt stifling, and she wanted to tear it from her body to cool her heated skin. The thought of Jack Weaver seeing that skin only made her warmer.

Tess bit her lip. Enough was enough. She was tired of him having control of the situation. She was going to show him she could match him jab for jab.

“Oh, I would love to expose you, Jack.” Her whispered words were far too breathy, but she pressed on. “I intend to strip you bare for all the world to see.”

“My room, midnight.”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Stein

Award-winning author Catherine Stein believes that everyone deserves love and that Happily Ever After has the power to help, to heal, and to comfort. She writes sassy, sexy romance set during the Victorian and Edwardian eras and full of action, adventure, magic, and fantastic technologies.

Catherine lives in Michigan with her husband and three rambunctious girls. She loves steampunk and oxford commas, and can often be found dressed in clothing that was purchased at a Renaissance Festival, drinking copious amounts of tea.

Follow Catherine here: 

Facebook page        Facebook group        Twitter        Instagram        Pinterest               Bookbub        Goodreads        Amazon        Book + Main        Newsletter

 

REVIEW

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Catherine Stein continues to show tremendous growth in her craft with her latest excellent offering.

The Scoundrel’s New Con is an incredibly original work in a subgenre that is often flooded with stories centered on the nobility. Here, as in most of Catherine’s books, the main characters are “ordinary” but remarkable people in the Victorian era. Tess is a news reporter, intent on exposing the truth about spiritualists and their ilk who seek to divest the gullible of their money. Jack, a spirit photographer and con man, is one of those she plans to discredit. There’s only one problem, she’s deeply attracted to him. The better she gets to know him, the weaker her determination to strip him of his livelihood.

I love that their flirtation is frank and sensual. I appreciate the slow reveal of their respective pasts to explain their present choices. I like the proper amount of push and pull that made me anticipate the eventual happy payoff.

I enjoyed the dialogue, pacing, action, and photography competence porn. I adored the cat Phantom. And, best of all, I admire the matter-of-fact feminism that was laid out in a manner that came naturally to the characters and not at all preaching to the readers. Brava!

4 Four-half-stars

 

 

 

 

THE FIRST EMMA By Camille Di Maio – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

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THE FIRST EMMA

by

Camille Di Maio

Historical Fiction / Historical Romance / Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
Date of Publication: May 5, 2020
Number of Pages: 315

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Synopsis

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The First Emma is the true story of Emma Koehler, whose tycoon husband, Otto, was killed in a crime-of-the-century murder by one of his two mistresses—both also named Emma—and her unlikely rise as CEO of a brewing empire during Prohibition. When a chance to tell her story to a young teetotaler arises, a tale unfolds of love, war, beer, and the power of women.

PRAISE for The First Emma: 
“Di Maio’s take on a shocking American drama pleasantly blends romantic and historical fiction . . . a sweet memorialization of a real-life female business pioneer in San Antonio.” —Kirkus

“A beautifully crafted portrait of an intriguing woman. Mystery and romance are set against the backdrop of fascinating pieces of twentieth-century history, and a richly drawn setting leaves the reader feeling wholly immersed. Historical fiction fans will love this one!” —Chanel CleetonNYT bestselling author of Next Year in Havana

“Di Maio does a brilliant job of weaving together all the threads—from past to present—while unearthing a tale of blossoming love, the power of our chosen family, and the losses that make us whole again.” —Rochelle B. WeinsteinUSA Today bestselling author of This Is Not How It Ends

 

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Born out of Camille Di Maio’s creative imagination and impeccable research, The First Emma is a wonderful tribute to a remarkable woman whose historic contributions to San Antonio have not been much touted as she deserved. Seamlessly intertwining fact and fiction, dual timelines, details of the brewery business, and the intricacies of the lives of two women, Ms. Di Maio has created a novel that engages the emotions and captivates the intellect at the same time.

In this book, close-to-dying Emma Koehler narrates her life story to young Mabel Hartley, spanning from her and her husband’s beginnings in St. Louis through their move to Texas and until the end of the Prohibition. All the while, the titular Emma provides a new home for the lonely young woman, matchmakes her with Erik, a nephew, and inspires her in her future. As Mabel said in the book, “Mrs. Koehler’s story was interesting, yes. But more than that, it offered hope to girls who were beginning to see a world where opportunities were available to them that were never there before.”

Having lived in San Antonio, I delighted in being transported to its past. I’ve only seen Pearl as it is now, a tourist destination filled with chic shops and fancy restaurants. This book took me on a fascinating “tour” of how it was eighty years ago through detailed descriptions of the brewery, the theater, cars, and the war. I can only say the “trip” was awesome.

So many themes in this book resonated with me–female strength, found family, hope, and love. I highlighted several passages that spoke to me.

“… there is much in life that is out of our control. The answer is not to give up and crumble. The answer is to find a way around it, no matter the difficulty. No matter how impossible the obstacles.”

I related so much to this because I met cousins in San Antonio I didn’t know I have. “… what I can give them is the gift of each other. It’s not easy to come from a different country and make a life here. But if they have each other to lean on, they will have a far better foundation than most.”

Well-crafted and evocative, The First Emma is a novel I highly recommend for readers of historical fiction and historical romance, and maybe even those who like true crime.

Content advisory: On-page deaths, gun violence, alcoholism, war.

4 Four-half-stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

Camille Di MaioCamille Di Maio always dreamed of being a writer, though she took a winding path of waitressing, temping, politicking, and real estate to get there. It all came to fruition with the publication of her bestselling debut, The Memory of Us, followed by Before the Rain FallsThe Way of Beauty, and The Beautiful Strangers. In addition to writing, she loves farmers’ markets, unashamedly belts out Broadway tunes when the mood strikes, and regularly faces her fear of flying to indulge her passion for travel. Married for twenty-three years, she home-schools their four children. (Though the first two are off at college now!) She is happy to live in Virginia near a beach.

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ONE WINNER receives a signed copy of The First Emma 

May 19-29, 2020
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5/19/20 Promo Texas Book Lover
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5/21/20 Author Video Max Knight
5/22/20 Review Librariel Book Adventures
5/23/20 Excerpt Part 1 All the Ups and Downs
5/24/20 Excerpt Part 2 Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
5/25/20 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
5/26/20 Excerpt Part 3 The Page Unbound
5/27/20 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
5/28/20 Review Momma on the Rocks

 

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BREAKFAST AT THE HONEY CREEK CAFÉ By Jodi Thomas: Review and Giveaway

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BREAKFAST AT THE HONEY CREEK CAFÉ

A Honey Creek Novel

by

Jodi Thomas

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
Number of Pages: 336 pages

 

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Synopsis

BATHCC cover embellishedFrom Jodi Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of Mornings on Main and Indigo Lake, comes this heartwarming new novel set in Honey Creek, Texas—a small town where family bonds and legends run deep, and friendship and love are always close at hand . . .

Piper Jane Mackenzie, mayor of Honey Creek, won’t let a major scandal rip her quirky hometown apart or jeopardize her dream of one day running for higher office. So she’s willing to welcome undercover detective Colby McBride, hired to help solve the mystery behind her wannabe fiancé’s disappearance. Colby’s cover? That he is an old boyfriend now begging Piper for a second chance—always when there are plenty of townsfolk around to witness his shenanigans.

Piper hardly knows whether to laugh or cry, especially when she finds herself drawn to the handsome rascal. He’s not the only newcomer she has to deal with. There’s a new interim preacher in town, Sam Cassidy. Drifting from one assignment to another since his one love died, Sam isn’t sure he’s the right fit for Honey Creek. But as Piper knows, this is a place chock-full of surprises. And if she can keep her town—and her heart—from going completely off the rails, there may be a sweet, unexpected future in store . . .

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This was a hoot, a zany, funny light read that’s sure to entertain readers who like romantic fiction that’s set in a small town and that contains a little mystery to liven things up.

Breakfast at Honey Creek Café tells the intertwined stories of three couples – Piper and Colby, Sam and Anna, and Pecos and Kerrie. All different, all romantic in their own way.

Piper is the mayor of Honey Creek whose rumored boyfriend went missing and is now under suspicion of foul play. Colby is a trooper who was sent by her Texas Ranger brother to investigate the case and also to protect her. The cover story they came up with has Colby posing as an old suitor so that he can get the townspeople to talk to him. Both have bad experiences with relationships in the past that made them wary about their attraction to each other. With the entire town looking on, their pretend courtship soon turns oh-so real.

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Sam is a former firefighter and former soldier who takes up the position of temporary preacher originally meant for his deceased father. After the death of his girlfriend, he found himself drifting along without any real purpose until he came to Honey Creek. There, he realizes that preaching isn’t for him, but Anna, the feisty world-saver definitely is. Their snappy banter made me laugh out loud.

The third story–told from the point of view of Pecos, the graduating high school student who wants to leave town to be somebody–is the one that touched me the most. Pecos has the most tremendous growth of all the POV characters. He made me tear up with this line: “That living through any storms with her was better than facing the world alone.”

Jodi Thomas described a setting that’s quirky enough to be fictional, but also familiar enough to be realistic. There’s a lot of named characters necessary to paint a complete picture of a community. My favorite is the generous Mr. Winston.

This book is a different style from what I’ve read of Ms. Thomas’s work before. It’s more comedic and less angsty. It’s still her usual heartwarming story and I love that. My only critique is in the inconsistency of the tone. It started really serious with the mystery of the missing boyfriend but as the book went on, the graveness was abandoned in favor of attempts to elicit laughter from the reader. Also, the ending was a tad rushed, with the villain’s motivations not fully fleshed out. But all of that is minor compared to my overall enjoyment of the book. How could I not when this quote from Anna expresses my carpe diem motto exactly?

“We don’t know what the future holds, but we want to step into it together. It’ll take some work, but we’ll fit each other in our lives.”

4 out of 5 stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

Jodi Thomas 2With millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas is both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over fifty novels and countless short story collections. Her stories travel through the past and present days of Texas and draw readers from around the world.

In July 2006, Jodi was the eleventh writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. With five RITAs to her credit, along with National Readers’ Choice Awards and Booksellers’ Best Awards, Thomas has proven her skill as a master storyteller.

Thomas was honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas and served sixteen years as the Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.

When not working on a novel, or inspiring students to pursue writing careers, Thomas enjoys traveling with her family, renovating an historic home, and “checking up” on two grown sons and four grandchildren.

 ║ Website ║ Facebook ║ Twitter  ║
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MAY 12-21, 2020
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5/12/20 Notable Quotable Texas Book Lover
5/12/20 BONUS Post Hall Ways Blog
5/13/20 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
5/14/20 Guest Post All the Ups and Downs
5/15/20 Review Momma on the Rocks
5/16/20 Author Interview Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
5/17/20 Scrapbook Page That’s What She’s Reading
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5/19/20 Guest Post Chapter Break Book Blog
5/20/20 Review Reading by Moonlight
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FULL CIRCLE by Pamela Lombana – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

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FULL CIRCLE: A MEMOIR

by

PAMELA LOMBANA

Genre:  Memoir / Domestic Abuse / Forgiveness
Publisher: Wordfall Publishing
Date of Publication: December 5, 2019
Number of Pages: 217

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Synopsis

Full Circle cover 3D 2Alcoholism and domestic abuse creep silently into people’s lives, shattering dreams. For Pamela Lombana, the excitement of marriage turned into paralyzing fear as alcohol became her husband’s best friend. Surviving the daily physical and emotional abuse was the norm for her and their children. Full Circle tells the story of how love and God’s abiding grace helped Pamela find the strength to leave her husband, Fernando. During this journey, healing and forgiveness allowed her and the children to be there for him when he needed them the most.

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A mother's love for her children empowers her to find her voice, forgive, and begin to live again.

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Pamela Lombana is unflinchingly honest and incredibly brave in sharing this autobiography that narrates how she and her children freed themselves from the harrowing shackles of domestic abuse and led fulfilled lives after allowing themselves to forgive. Full Circle is an affecting memoir, a valuable first-hand resource for those in a similar situation, and a testament to the power of faith and love.

Ms. Lombana’s narrative is real and believable. She could have overly-dramatized the situations of gaslighting, verbal assaults, and even physical violence she had suffered in the hands of her husband but she didn’t. She was fair to Fernando by providing his background of parental cruelty, allowing the readers to have an understanding of his situation. His alcohol addiction, his unwillingness to seek psychiatric help, the presence of enablers, and the lack of a more powerful influence placed him beyond saving from his path of self-destruction.

In life, everyone has their own struggles to fight and their own battles to win. I hope I can give my children the tools to do this.I like that the author balanced the heavy and serious accounts of helplessness and depression with light and uplifting anecdotes about the children and their adjustment to moving and living with limited resources. I also appreciate her acknowledgment of the people who’d helped her escape and supported her throughout her struggles. Readers of this book who recognize similar situations in their friends and family could learn how to assist the victims in making the changes they need to break away from the chains that bind them to an abuser.

A non-fiction book like this memoir is not my first choice of reading material. I read, write, and live romance. Full Circle compelled me to make an exception because above all, this is a book filled with love–love of self, of family, and of God. It warms my heart that Ms. Lombana shares the story of finding a new partner at the end of the book and from her accounts, they’re working together for their happily-ever-after. That is the very definition of romance.

5 stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

Pamela Lombana

Pamela Lombana grew up in Colombia, South America, and emigrated to the United States to attend university. In 1999, Pamela became a pediatric nurse practitioner and went on to run a pediatric clinic in Spring Branch, Texas. Pamela loves working with families and children and focuses on educating her patients and their families. Pamela values strong family ties and friendships. She has three children and four stepchildren. Writing is a passion that started in Pamela’s teenage years. She enjoys being amongst nature and loves to go hiking with her husband, Mark.

Pamela is passionate about empowering women and providing them with tools to navigate life through her book, Full Circle: A Memoir, her blog, and Wordfall Publishing. Pamela wrote her memoir to offer hope and courage to women experiencing alcoholic and abusive situations.

Goodreads ║ Facebook ║ Instagram ║ Twitter
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4/24/20 Review Tangled in Text
4/25/20 Review KayBee’s Book Shelf
4/26/20 Author Interview StoreyBook Reviews
4/27/20 Review Rainy Days with Amanda
4/28/20 Guest Post All the Ups and Downs
4/29/20 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
4/30/20 Review Kelly Well Read

 

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FOR SPACIOUS SKIES By Nancy Churnin: Book Blog Tour – Review and Giveaway

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FOR SPACIOUS SKIES

KATHARINE LEE BATES AND THE INSPIRATION FOR “AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL”

by

Nancy Churnin

illustrated by Olga Baumert

Picture Book Biography / Women’s Suffrage / Woman Poet
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Date of Publication: April 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 32

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Synopsis

FSS book coverAs a little girl growing up during the Civil War, Katharine Lee Bates grew up to become a poet, professor, and social activist. She not only wrote “America the Beautiful” but gave this anthem to America as a gift. A member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and a suffragist who stood up for a woman’s right to vote and lived to cast her ballot in presidential elections, Katharine believed in the power of words to make a difference. In “America the Beautiful,” her vision of the nation as a great family, united from sea to shining sea, continues to uplift and inspire us all.

 

PRAISE for For Spacious Skies: 

“Churnin tells that story in a spare and lively text beautifully complemented by double-page spreads highlighting Baumert’s gorgeous panoramic illustrations . . . A handsome volume befitting its subject.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The story ends on a high note in 1920, with Bates casting her ballot after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted voting rights to women . . . The richly colored, nicely composed artwork will help children visualize the period setting while enjoying the portrayals of Bates and beautiful landscapes. A picture-book biography of a notable American.”—Booklist

“Nancy Churnin has written a delightful book that helps children understand the many dimensions of my great-aunt Katharine Lee Bates. This book does an excellent job conveying her ardent passion for equal rights and for her country. She was a poet, a professor, and a world traveler, but she was first and foremost a citizen who loved America, in all its beauty and diversity.”—Katharine Lee Holland

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Exquisitely illustrated, inspiring, and educational, For Spacious Skies is a gem of a picture biography I would strongly recommend elementary school librarians, Reading teachers, and parents of school-age kids purchase right away.

Growing up in the Philippines, I’ve heard of the song “America the Beautiful” but haven’t known anything about the writer who penned the tribute to this country’s wonders from coast to coast until now. Along with my fifth-grader son, I learned of Katharine Lee Bates’s feminism and her drive to make a difference through her words. We felt an affinity with her when she beheld the marvelous sights from the top of Pikes Peak, a place we’ve visited and lived close by.

FSS bookstagram 2Touching on major events that happened during the lifetime of Miss Bates, from the Civil War to Lincoln Assassination to women’s suffrage, this book teaches history to children in a way that appeals as well as informs. My son was particularly shocked upon learning that there was a time when women didn’t have the right to vote. His reaction made me think that girls would be inspired by Miss Bates even more and all kids who read this would seek to follow in her footsteps in speaking up for women and the poor, and advocating for peace in the US and the world.

With its artful cover and instructive content, For Spacious Skies is a worthy addition to any library.

4 Four-half-stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

ChurninNancy Churnin is the award-winning author of eight picture book biographies with a ninth due in 2021.

Beautiful Shades of Brown, The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring is A Mighty Girl pick that will be featured at the 2020 Ruby Bridges Reading Festival at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee in May. The William Hoy Story, a Texas 2X2 pick, has been on multiple state reading lists. Manjhi Moves a Mountain is the winner of the 2018 South Asia Book Award and a Junior Library Guild selection. Martin & Anne, the Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank is on the 2020 Notable Book for a Global Society list from the International Literacy Association. Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing is a 2019 Sydney Taylor and National Council for the Social Studies Notable.

Nancy graduated cum laude from Harvard, has a master’s from Columbia, and lives in Plano, Texas, with her husband, Dallas Morning News arts writer Michael Granberry, their dog named Dog, and two cantankerous cats.

Website ║ Blog ║ Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Instagram
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ONE WINNER receives signed copies of both
For Spacious Skies and Beautiful Shades of Brown 
TWO WINNERS each receive a signed copy of For Spacious Skies
April 16-26, 2020
(US only for signed copies; international winners via Book Depository)

 

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

4/16/20

Notable Quotable Book Fidelity
4/16/20 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
4/17/20 Book Trailer KayBee’s Book Shelf
4/18/20 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
4/18/20 Sneak Peek Hall Ways Blog
4/19/20 Author Interview StoreyBook Reviews
4/20/20 Review Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
4/21/20 Playlist Texas Book Lover
4/21/20 Review That’s What She’s Reading
4/22/20 Author Interview Tangled in Text
4/23/20 Guest Post Max Knight
4/23/20 Review All the Ups and Downs
4/24/20 Deleted Scene Reading by Moonlight
4/25/20 Review Forgotten Winds
4/25/20 Review Jennifer Silverwood

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