Author Interview: C.S. Johnson

Hey bookworms, long time no chat. It has been busy over here on our end as I am planning for my vacation to Ireland and Scotland in about 3 weeks. We did have time to have C.S. Johnson stop by the blog today for an author interview though. Her recent release Slumbering is out now for purchase and I will post the links below.

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Publication Date: December 2014

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Hamilton Dinger leads a charmed life. He’s got the grades for the top of the class, the abilities of a star athlete and Tetris player, and the charisma to get away with anything. Everything seems to be going along perfectly, including his plans to ask out Gwen Kessler, as he enters into tenth grade at Apollo Central High School. Everything, that is, until a meteor crashes into the city, releasing the Seven Deadly Sinisters and their leader, Orpheus, from their celestial prison, and awakening Hamilton’s longtime dormant supernatural abilities. Suddenly Hamilton finds reluctantly allied with his self-declared mentor, Elysian, a changeling dragon, and Starry Knight, a beautiful but dangerous warrior, as they seek to protect the souls of Apollo City from the Sinisters and their evil intentions. Can Hamilton overcome his ignorance and narrow-mindedness to see what is truly real? Can he give up his self-proclaimed entitlement to happiness in order to follow the call of a duty he doesn’t want? More importantly, will he willingly sacrifice all he has to find out the truth?

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About the Author

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C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me



Author Interview

1.     What was your top read of 2018?

I am going to break all illusions of being fun and admit I am a total nerd. I tend to read a lot of nonfiction books. For 2018, my top read was “Saving Cinderella,” by Faith Moore. It’s a nonfiction book, but I’m a bit of a sucker for Disney Princess books, and I liked her cultural appraisal of feminists and fairy tales. The book really helped me work through some of my own symbolism as I was writing The Princess and the Peacock, which is my first new book in 2019.

2.     What is your favorite book friendship?

In terms of fiction, I really think Harry Potter takes the prize. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were a great pairing, and while I know a lot of people said that it would have been better if Harry wound up with Herminie, I was actually able to guess Ron and Hermione would end up together early on. In many ways, they were a reflection of Harry’s own parents from what he knew of them, and it made sense to me when they got together. For people who say Harry and Hermione would have been good together, I actually agree with Harry’s own take on it in the book, where he says she’s always been like a sister to him. Harry, as an only child, would have had that sort of longing, and Hermione is actually a really great foil to Dudley.

In terms of nonfiction, I really like C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as friends. I can see them smoking and drinking in Oxford, arguing in one breath and laughing in the next.

3.     Most anticipated book release of 2019?

I’ve already pre-ordered it, but I’m eager for “Another Kingdom” to come to print. I liked the podcast version and I’m interested to see how much of it changes, if it changes at all.

4.     How many books are in your TBR Pile?

Honestly, I’ve lost count at this point, haha!

5.     Who is your favorite author?

I have a lot of favorite authors, and most of them for different reasons. But that’s part of the reason I am a writer, too. I like too many things and it’s a lot of fun to get to pick and choose which ideas I get to use in each of my books. Some of my favorites are C. S. Lewis, Andrew Klavan, Amy Tan, J. K. Rowling, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, and Nora Roberts.

6.     How did you start writing?

For this one, it’s not a very “good” or “kind” reason. I started writing because I really hated reality. It turns out I hated reality for any number of reasons – some of them people – and I was able to work out a lot of my angst in writing. It allows me a moment or two of control, and I have been able to see a lot of things much differently as a writer.

7. Where is your favorite reading spot?

I like reading at the coffeeshop. I like this because there are always people around that don’t try to bother you, but you can bother them if you like. I also like this because I don’t have to clean up (as I would in my house) and I don’t have to worry about scrounging around for food.

8. How long have you been an author?

I have been an author for a long time, if you include my early poetry credits. I have been trying to make a living as a writer now for about two years, part-full-time (it’s never easy with kids, haha, but I wouldn’t trade any of it. I love my life as a stay at home mom and author.)

9. What do you like about reading?

I like that it allows us to pull back from the pressing moments of our own lives. We get a glimpse of another existence and we get to become more of who we are because of the questions we instinctively feel from a story.

10. If you had to describe yourself in a book title, what would it be?

“The Opposite of Irony,” or “Exceptionally Mediocre.”

I thought about what I would title my memoir, if I ever truly set out to write one – I doubt I will – and these are the two I love the most and are the most fitting. My life has played out completely different from what I expected, but it’s so different from the opposite of what I expected, too; that’s why the first title resonates with dry humor and truth. The second is more a commentary on how I’ve never felt extraordinarily extraordinary at anything in particular. I might be a bit smarter than some, or a bit more creative, but I am still a woman who loves her husband, family, and faith, and I strive to do the best I can with what I have. That’s nothing extraordinary, and yet it is, too. It’s what many would call a mediocre life, but there’s so many extraordinarily exceptional moments that mark it. I’m not a hard topic to hit, but I am a complicated one, haha!


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For your chance to win a print copy of Slumbering by C.S. Johnson, click the link below!

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Blog Tour Schedule

April 15th

Reads & Reels (Review) http://www.readsandreels.com

Daily Waffle (Excerpt) http://www.dailywaffle.co.uk

Sophril Reads (Excerpt) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

April 16th

I Smell Sheep (Cover Love Feature) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks (Review) https://quirkycatsfatstacks.com/

I Love Books and Stuff (Excerpt) https://ilovebooksandstuffblog.wordpress.com

Reading Nook (Excerpt) http://readingnook84.wordpress.com

The Bookworm Drinketh (Excerpt) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/

April 17th

Jessica Rachow (Review) http://jessicarachow.wordpress.com

#Bookish (Excerpt) http://erindeckerblog.wordpress.com

Yearwood La Novella (Excerpt) http://yearwooddailybookreview.wordpress.com

April 18th

J Bronder Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

The Bibliophagist (Review) http://thebibliophagist.blog/

B is for Book Review (Excerpt) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

April 19th

Breakeven Books (Interview) https://breakevenbooks.com

The Invisible Moth (Review) https://daleydowning.wordpress.com

Stacy is Reading (Review) https://stacyisreading.blogspot.com/?m=0

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Is anyone taking part in the Harry Potter Magical Readathon? Here is my video showing the books I chose to read for my OWLS! Let me know in the comments if you are participating.

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Book Review: Roses in December

OMG Bookworms! I go to Ireland tomorrow. I am so freaking excited. I did a lot of reading this week to get my OWLS in for the Magical Readathon. So far I have completed Defense Against The Dark Arts and now having completed this book, I have completed Herbology. Speaking of this book, it is called Roses in December: Haunting and Macabre Tales by Matthew De Lacey Davidson.

The book Roses in December lying on a blanket

Synopsis: Roses in December is a short story collection which defies categorization. Some of the stories are haunting – others are deeply troubling.

A man receives a religious vision in his ordinary back garden; a nuclear physicist in Australia experiences a great surprise where he least expects it; a duct-tape salesman unsettles his faithful customer; Voltaire does not put his best foot forward; someone makes a grim discovery upon waking up in a prison; a psychiatrist does his best to treat a political extremist; a nineteenth-century photographer goes about his usual (and highly unusual) business; and a wealthy neighborhood in Montreal becomes the scene of an immense and avoidable tragedy.

This book was too short. I loved it and wish there was more of it to consume my time. It has over 20 short stories in it and they are all so different yet exciting. Some of them are super eerie and when you are finished you are like “heck yes, I love when they leave it with such an ominous tone”.

The last one is very sweet and I believe the author wrote it about someone very special to him. It is about life and how it moves on but we always stay connected to those that are close to us, be it family or not.

You will not get bored reading this book as each story is only 4-5 pages each and the book itself is only around 115 pages. I find that I am a big fan of short story collections and will continue to find more of these to read. Especially dark, thrilling ones.

If you like short stories then I suggest picking this one up.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and Book Depository or find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format by the author to read and give our honest review.


Is anyone taking part in the Harry Potter Magical Readathon? Here is my video showing the books I chose to read for my OWLS! Let me know in the comments if you are participating.

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Author Interview: Kristin Ward

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They tell me the country looked different back then.

They talk of open borders and flowing rivers.

They say the world was green.

But drought swept across the globe and the United States of the past disappeared under a burning sky.

Enora Byrnes lives in the aftermath, a barren world where water has become the global currency. In a life dominated by duty to family and community, Enora is offered a role within an entity that controls everything from water credits to borders. But it becomes clear that not all is as it seems. From the wasted confines of her small town to the bowels of a hidden city, Enora will uncover buried secrets that hide an unthinkable reality.

As truth reveals the brutal face of what she has become, she must ask herself: how far will she go to retain her humanity?

Author Bio

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Kristin Ward has loved writing since middle school but took thirty years to do something serious about it. The result is her Best Indie Book Award-winning novel, After the Green Withered, followed by the sequel, Burden of Truth. She lives in a small town in Connecticut with her husband, three sons, and many furry and feathered friends. A SciFi geek to the core, she is fueled by dark chocolate and coffee and can be heard quoting eighties movies on a regular basis.

Social Media Links

Kristin Ward Twitter: http://twitter.com/YA_Author

Kristin Ward Website: https://www.writingandmythreesons.com/

After the Green Withered purchase links:

https://www.amazon.com/After-Green-Withered-Kristin-Ward-ebook/dp/B07D2X7YSY

https://books2read.com/after-the-green-withered


Author Interview

1. What is your top read of 2019 so far?

I really enjoyed The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky. I love strong female characters and this was a different take on gender roles and what they mean for one young woman as she struggles to survive in a remote society. The main character, Omat, explores her strength and gender identity in a way that takes her on a journey of self-discovery as she comes face to face with who she is within her Inuit community. The world building, mythology, and clash of cultures create a rich story in a frozen landscape. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with an unflinching look at what it means to survive in a hostile environment.

2. What is your favorite book friendship?

I’m going to go back in time for this one. As a teenager, I read and immediately fell in love with, The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. The bonds of friendship among this group of greasers is powerful. They are a family, though not by blood, and defend one another at great personal cost. I especially loved the relationship Ponyboy and Johnny have as they are forced to leave their community and then return to face the repercussions of events that unfold before and during their exile. It is when the two of them are separated from society, that their friendship reaches new depths. They shed their bravado and really show who they are beneath the layer of stereotypical behavior that keeps them on the outside of ‘acceptable’ society. I admit to some serious tears as the story unfolds.

3. Most anticipated book release of 2019?

On the top of my list is the recent release, The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. Being a fan of Game of Thrones, I’m excited to delve into this story! The fact that there are dragons has nothing to do with it. Nope. Who needs dragons? Psh.

4. How many books are in your TBR Pile?

At the moment, I’ve got just over one hundred in my TBR pile and I’m often adding to it!

5. Who is your favorite author?

That’s a really tough question. I would say that the author whose titles take up the most space on my shelves is Stephen King. But that is not to say he is my favorite author out of all of the titles I’ve read. I’ve simply been reading his books for thirty years and he’s a prolific writer!

I don’t anchor myself to any one genre as I have a rather eclectic taste in books and am a classic re-reader of stories that I love. I’m a huge fan of young adult fiction and have many authors that I enjoy reading. I am always looking for my next dystopian read! I also love a good historical fiction or romance when the mood strikes. If it’s set in medieval Scotland, my interest is immediately piqued!

6. How did you start writing?

I would have to go back to middle school, 7thgrade to be precise. When my English teacher, whom I still keep in close contact with, likened my writing to Saki, the author of The Interlopers, I was hooked. That defining moment began my foray into mad scribblings of terrible poetry and story starters galore.

As an adult, I spent many years dabbling in writing and began a few book ideas that I have yet to complete, though I may not ever finish those as my interest waned. The inspiration for my first self-published novel came from research I conducted while writing a graduate course in environmental education. As I dug into the history of the earth and learned about various environmental shifts, a seedling of an idea took root. I began to wonder what the world would look like if drought ravaged the planet and water became the global currency. While this first book took about five years to write, family and career being the primary reason for the delay, I finally reached that pinnacle of achievement and published in May of 2018. The sequel was published in November, following a very strict deadline that I had set for myself after completing the first book.

7. Where is your favorite reading spot?

I love reading in bed while propped up with pillows! This makes paperbacks or my Kindle essential, as a hard back gets awfully heavy. During the daylight hours, I enjoy reading in my writing chair. It is an upholstered recliner that belonged to my grandmother. I will park myself in it for writing and reading stints with the wood stove pumping out heat in the winter or the windows letting in warm breezes in the summer.

8. How long have you been an author?

While I was officially published many years ago after writing curriculum for a zoo, I consider 2018 to be the start of my authorship. My journey has just begun and I have spent the last year learning more than I ever expected as I delved into what it means to be indie. The adventure has just begun and I have many stories to tell!

9. What do you like about reading?

Reading is a passion. When you open a book, you enter a world created from nothing more than words spun together in a way that never existed before. I believe writing is the true magic in the world. Writers are the magicians. Books take me on a journey and if I truly love them, I will visit again from time to time.

10. If you had to describe yourself in a book title, what would it be?

The Adventures of Unicorn Geek-Girl


Here is my latest youtube video where I do the booktube newbie tag if you want to check it out!

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Book Review: The Last Straw

Hey bookworms. I am busy over here getting ready for my trip in less than 2 weeks now but I still have had a little time to read. I recently finished The Last Straw by Ed Duncan so read below for the review.

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Synopsis: When a teenage girl witnesses a carjacking gone bad, she is marked for death by a crime boss with no apparent motive. A black lawyer and a white enforcer with an unlikely history forge an uneasy alliance to protect the girl from a hit man with an agenda of his own.

After they find out that the crime boss is the father of the black teenage carjacker, Paul Elliott – lawyer and close friend of the witness’s family – begins counseling them.

As the long-simmering feud between Rico and John D’Angelo reaches boiling point, bodies start to pile up in rapid succession… and old scores will be settled.

This book was just alright for me. I would classify it as an in the middle book because it was fast paced which I liked but it wasn’t very descriptive and I found it jumped from scene to scene quite quickly.

It was an interesting concept and I haven’t read many novels with hired killers pitting up against each other before so that was fun. There was a lot of conflicts and it showed a part of the underground/black market business side that is not normally viewed by the reader. I’m not sure how to classify Rico. I feel like he is an antagonist with a heart because he kills people for his job but in this book, he doesn’t want to hurt a teenager.

I will say that the book did have some hard-hitting sections of racism and how people dealt with it. It was kind of sad to see how the color of one’s skin affected some of the characters in ways that it really shouldn’t. We are all humans regardless of skin color and I would never judge someone based on that. But I see how the author did this to make some of the characters have that bad moral side to them.

This was the second book in a series but you could read it as a standalone because the author makes sure to catch you up on everything that happened in the first one. They refer to it quite often and it helps with the plot.

Overall, it was a quick read. If you like the crime genre and want a fast read for commuting to work or just a break from some heavier, more intense books then give this one a shot.

Book Rating: 3/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by the author in physical format to read and give an honest review.


My latest video talks about my review of Armada by Ernest Cline and I refer to this book at the end. I also have a giveaway on right now until Thursday so make sure to enter!

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Book Highlight: The Onyx Crown

To celebrate the release of Alan Hurst’s debut novel, The Onyx Crown, we are having a week-long book blitz! There will be an exclusive excerpt reveal, and a chance to win a digital copy of the book at the bottom! 

Front CoverThe Onyx Crown #1

Publication Date: January 27th, 2019

Genre: Fantasy/ Adventure

The Onyx Crown is an exciting foray into the world of African fantasy. From the searing heat of the desert to the vastness of the savannah, it tells the story of three children–Sania, Gesi, and Jorann who grow up in a pre-medieval era of wars and successions, not fifteen years after the greatest king in the history of the continent has been deposed and assassinated. They must overcome the traumatic circumstances of their birth as well as many dangerous trials to fulfill the destiny bestowed upon them as infants. Can mere children use their courage, wits, and uncanny abilities to defeat legendary warriors, entire tribes, provinces, and kingdoms–allowing them to lead the worthy to the greatest prize of all, the Onyx Crown?

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Excerpt

For the next few days, the three of them did virtually everything together, including games, horse riding, and spear training with the First Knight, who seemed to be getting sterner and tougher on them with every lesson. The First Knight, whose given name was Jorell Boro, was famed throughout the fourteen provinces as one of the best living warriors of all time. He’d made his name fighting for the upstart Regent Okon in his war of usurpation against the High King Toloron.

After Toloron was defeated, the regent rewarded Boro with the titles of First Knight of the Crown, Protector of the House of the First Prince, and the moniker “the Bloodless Death,” because supposedly his bladed spear could kill a person so quickly and with such precision that they would be dead before any blood was even visible.

Okon, along with the ruling conclave, also granted a treaty to Pala Jorell’s home kingdom of East Rhydor, including a guarantee that no Numerian troops would invade as long as the East Rhydor king or his son, the prince, were in power.

The First Prince had asked Pala Jorell to begin instructing Zadeemo in the ways of knighthood, and also Gesemni himself, most likely reasoning that Zadeemo would need a sparring partner when the First Prince was absent.

The First Knight had been reluctant to train a “commoner” in the higher arts of warfare but, at the insistence of both the First Prince and Zadeemo, had relented. Still, one could tell he took The Onyx Crown -26- great pains to make sure that Zadeemo understood some of the finer points of the moves he instructed, while not deigning to help Gesi.

Luckily for Gesi, he had tremendous aptitude and seemingly a womb-borne comprehension of instinctual combat. As such, he rarely needed the extra tutoring that Zadeemo couldn’t seem to do without. On this day, the two of them were instructed for quite some time on hand-spear counters, an ancient method of grappling that involved an unarmed warrior wresting the control of spears and other long objects away from their adversary. It was an extremely rough and unpolished method of fighting, and the First Knight took the better part of the morning explaining it to them.

Finally, the paladin suggested they work the puzzling elements out with a few rounds of sparring. Boro handed him a bladed spear and marked out a circle four en-yawo in diameter with his carving knife. Zadeemo was given a pair of lyocell gloves, which felt like silk but were made from the toughest fibers in existence. These were to be used to protect his hands from blade cuts.

Gesi shifted nervously. Always when they’d fought before they’d both been armed. Oddly, there’s a certain amount of safety involved when two weapons compete against each other. But with Zadeemo being unarmed, Gesi felt he’d have to be very careful. He was also very conscious of Zoe sitting on her tilbury, watching them both amusedly.

“Engage!” The First Knight’s voice rang out through the square as the boys stepped into the circle. Zadeemo immediately lowered his stance, thrusting the heel of his boot inside Gesi’s left calf to disrupt his balance, simultaneously snatching at the bladed spear handle.

Shuffle-stepping to counter, Gesi twisted the blade ninety degrees, forcing Zadeemo to withdraw his hands. He knew he was supposed to be nothing more than a punching target for Zadeemo, but in situations like this, his stubborn, competitive imoya always got in the way of things, and yes…he also wanted to show off a bit in front of Zoe.

Surprisingly, Zadeemo must’ve anticipated his counter because he nimbly moved to his left, crashing his knee into Gesi’s right thigh and causing him to grimace. Ducking underneath the spear, Zadeemo swung his right elbow fiercely into Gesi’s solar plexus. The few servants and townspeople who were looking on cheered loudly, including Zoe.

At that second, he felt like he was going to black out. Zadeemo may have been slower than a stuck rhino, but he had strength far beyond what most twelve-year-olds could muster.

Instinctively, he twisted his bladed spear to block the next grasping move he felt was coming, slid his left knee under Zadeemo’s right, and reverse-swung the spear in a sweeping arc toward Zadeemo’s chest. The cheering stopped, followed by a deathly silence as Zadeemo crashed down to the dirt awkwardly. Everyone was staring at Gesi. Some looked angry, some fearful, some puzzled. Even he didn’t know how he’d won.

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About the Author

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Alan Hurst is an author and entrepreneur. Hurst who spent most of his childhood reading Asian wuxia fiction, Marvel comics and encyclopedias is delving into trilogy territory with THE ONYX CROWN. He briefly studied religion at Harvard.  Later, he settled in Washington, DC where he founded a software consulting firm, hosted the Urban Nation Radio podcast, and occasionally played the World Series of Poker.  When not writing or enjoying time with his family, he prefers to take his Ducati motorcycle out for the occasional spin!

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Book Review: Lure by Jeff Marschall

Hey bookworms. I went and read another book again. I have to stop sticking my nose in all these books. This one was call Lure by Jeff Marschall and it was my first medical thriller book.

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Synopsis: In the cold harsh winter of the Canadian Prairies a secret is about to be unearthed. Medical resident John Mueller finds himself serendipitously in possession of a professor’s coveted research. On the run, John evades enemies and authorities, unsure of who he can trust along the way. John must decode the professors past in order to understand the magnitude of what he has uncovered. While searching for explanations he ignites a new romance and rekindles an old one. But as John begins to realize the magnitude of his discovery, the ultimate decision of how to proceed with this knowledge is far from clear. As he struggles to predict the ramifications of the research, he will ultimately shoulder the responsibility of deciding whether its knowledge will benefit humanity or accelerate its path to destruction.

So this book did not keep me interested. I have quite a few things to say about it, to be honest. Let’s start with the fact that a lot of the characters were very one dimensional and did not have much going for them.

At points, I wasn’t sure if I was reading a medical thriller or a Harlequin novel. There were a couple sex scenes that were quite explicit and it seemed like very much what you would expect to see if you cracked open a heterosexual chauvinistic male brain and took a peek inside.

The thriller part lost me as well. It was more of a soap opera drama vibe that I got from the book. Not once was I really “thrilled”. I kept hoping for something to catch me off guard but it never came.

The ending was also quite disappointing. It was wrapped up very quickly in the last 2% of the book. It seemed like it was all condensed to just finish the book without any thought into if it was a good ending or not.

That being said, I did like that it was set in Saskatchewan as this is a part of Canada and I don’t believe it gets highlighted enough. I mean, there were other places that it was set in, not just Saskatchewan but it was cool to at least have some of it there. This may just be a Canadian pride thing but I love my country and I like when books are set in its beautiful landscape.

Overall, I can’t really say it was good. There were medical terms throughout and it was somewhat interesting but I am glad I am moving on to the next book. Maybe medical thrillers just aren’t my thing. But remember, this is just my opinion. Maybe someone else out there will really like this book. Who knows?

Book Rating: 2/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by the author in ebook format to read and give an honest review.

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Book Highlight: Touch of Smoke

Welcome to the Touch of Smoke tour! This beauty is the latest offering from author, Karissa Laurel. If you like your romance mixed with the supernatural, then this book is for you!

In addition to an exclusive excerpt, you will also have the chance to win a signed paperback copy, and some sweet bookish swag! Be sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom!

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Touch of Smoke

Publication Date: February 12th, 2019

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Three years ago, Rikki Albemarle watched her best friend die at the hands of supernatural evil. Certain she was slated to be the next victim, Rikki fled her small Smoky Mountain hometown, vowing to never come back. Plagued by nightmares and knowing she’s the only one who believes Mina’s death was no accident, Rikki returns with hopes of finding answers and holding the killer accountable.

Rikki is convinced the key to unlocking the secret of Mina’s death lies with Owen Amir, the alluring young army vet who once claimed her heart. But the deeper Rikki digs into Owen’s past, the more she’s torn between the urgings of her heart and her memories of him on the night Mina died.

After falling further into the rabbit hole, Rikki lands at the feet of an ancient and powerful evil determined to finish what it started years before. To survive, she’ll have to make a decision: believe Owen is the monster she always feared he might be or trust him enough to stay and fight for a second chance at love.

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Excerpt

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Owen huffed and shook his head but fished in his pocket until he found a small key ring. He selected an old brass one that he jiggled into the bolt lock over the warehouse’s rusty door handle. “Would have told you to put on jeans and boots if I’d known you wanted to go inside.”

Glancing at my shredded jean shorts and low-cut Chuck Taylors, I thanked Jesus I’d recently boosted my tetanus shot. “Not asking for a grand tour. Show me what you can from the threshold.”

Owen shook his head again, but he shoved his shoulder against the heavy door. It squealed as it gave way, swinging open on rusted hinges. I pushed past him, stepping farther into the room, but stopped at the edge of the small illuminated square thrown by Dolly’s headlights. “Just give me the general idea.”

His boot steps echoed in the open space as he moved behind me. Taking my shoulders, he shifted me until I faced the warehouse’s rear, where the light failed to reach. “The back wall there”—he pointed, leaning over my shoulder—“will be where we’ll line up the distilling tanks.” He wrapped an arm around my waist and spun us around like partners in a slow dance. A warm thrill raced through me as his lips brushed my ear. “And over there will be the café.”

My pulse throbbed in my ears, my chest, my lips. It wouldn’t be enough, these limited touches, these coy games, this not-so-subtle flirtation. With Owen, my options were sink or swim, and no matter how much reason and logic urged me to do otherwise, I was sinking, utterly drowning in him. I stumbled back and fought for a breath to clear my head, but my heel connected with an obstacle hidden in the shadows. I lost my footing and squeaked a feeble protest as gravity waged war against my balance.

The moment I was certain I would hit the floor and smash my tailbone, Owen grabbed my arm and yanked. Still off balance but with the added element of momentum, I plowed into him, tackling him to the floor.

Or that was what should have happened.

Instead, the world jumped up and swirled around me in a blur of blue sparks and shadows, air roaring in my ears like a tornado. I blinked, and the impression of someone—or something—huge, dark, and beastly burned behind my eyelids. When the dizzy moment passed, I found myself back on my feet, upright, and firmly wrapped in Owen’s arms. His heat blazed against me, filling my head with his smoky scent until I felt drunk and woozy.

“What…?” I shook my head and cleared my throat, but the intoxicating sensation remained. “What just happened?”

“You stumbled. I caught you.”

“No.” I squirmed, and he dropped his arms, releasing me. A thousand minuscule candles seemed to flicker in his eyes, giving them an otherworldly aura. I inched back, my steps wobbly. “We were falling. We should have hit the floor.”

His lips twitched. “I’m quick on my feet, Rikki. Give me some credit.”

Squinting, I studied him, his wide stance and the set of his jaw, full of self-confidence. He rolled his broad shoulders and grinned, obviously enjoying my scrutiny. Again, his presence seemed larger than the mere height and width of his physical body. Like a cowl and cape, dense shadows draped over him, and they seemed tangible enough to touch. When I reached out to stroke them, Owen drew back.

The shadows fled.

I shivered.

With no better explanation than to assume an overdose of adrenaline and desire had colored my perception, I dismissed my concerns and shrugged, heading for the door. “You’re not quick on your feet. You’re The Flash on steroids.”

His laughter followed me into the parking lot, but it was callous and more than a little cold.

The drive to my house was quiet, the atmosphere between us thick. If humans had animal instincts, then the wild creature inside me was insisting the man sitting in the passenger seat was more predator than appearance suggested. Something about Owen had changed. He was a tiger, I was his mouse, and I should run before he swallowed me whole. When I caught him staring at me, the dark look on his face implied he might do that very thing, given the chance.

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About the Author

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Karissa lives in North Carolina with her kid, her husband, the occasional in-law, and a very hairy husky. Some of her favorite things are coffee, chocolate, and superheroes. She can quote Princess Bride verbatim. She loves to read and has a sweet tooth for fantasy, sci-fi, and anything in between. In the summer, she loves to be on the water, on the boat or in her kayak. When it snows, you’ll find her on the slopes.

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Reads & Reels (Review) http://www.readsandreels.com

Where Dragons Reside (Excerpt) https://kernerangelina.live/

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Misty’s Book Space (Excerpt) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

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Breakeven Books: Booktube Edition!

So I did a thing! Remember that Youtube channel we talked about last week? Well, I uploaded my first video to it and I am very excited.

I would really apprecite it if you guys would check it out! Feel free to leave comments or tips on booktube. Obviously I am pretty new to this whole making videos thing so any tips and feedback is welcomed.

Anyways, short but sweet post. I will be hitting you up with some more book reviews soon. Talk to you later bookworms!

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YA Mega Book Blitz

If YA is your jam, then I have good news! Today, we are celebrating four amazing YA books, and the talented authors behind them. There will be exclusive excerpts and wonderful prizes to win, so be sure to read on!

As an added bonus, all four books will be available to book reviewers in exchange for honest reviews. Contact Shannon @ R&R Book Tours to find out how you can get your hands on a review copy.

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the gemini connection coverThe Gemini Connection by Teri Polen

Publication Date: June 7th, 2018

Genre: YA Science Fiction/ Dystopian

Teen twin brothers Evan and Simon Resnik are fiercely loyal to each other and share an unusual bond—they experience each other’s emotions as their own and can sense where the other is.

On their dying planet of Tage, scientists work tirelessly on its survival. Like the twins’ parents, Simon is a science prodigy, recruited at a young age to work with the brilliant creator of Scientific Innovations. To the bitter disappointment of their parents, Evan shows no aptitude or interest in science. As a Mindbender, he travels into the minds of scientists to locate buried memories, connect ideas and concepts, and battle recurring nightmares.

When Simon mysteriously disappears, Evan is plunged into a world of loss and unbearable guilt. For the first time, he can’t ‘feel’ Simon—it’s like he no longer exists. Evan blames himself. No one knows that he ignored his brother’s pleas for help on the night he went missing.

A year later, Simon is still gone. Evan lost his twin, but Tage might have lost its last hope of survival when it’s discovered that Simon’s unfinished project could be its salvation. Evan is determined to find him—somewhere—and bring Simon home. Their unusual connection might be more extraordinary than they know, and the key to locating Simon.

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Excerpt

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Ugly. That was the first word that came to mind. Deadly was next.

The twisted creation was courtesy of a new client, a scientist. The nightmare had been tormenting him for the past couple of weeks.

The monster stood roughly fifteen feet tall, walked on two legs, and stretched two muscled arms in front of it, but its elongated head was a grotesque combination of goat and demon. Treacherous horns protruded from either side of its skull, torso, and upper thighs, making it difficult for anyone to get close to the beast. Not that we especially wanted to, but it was part of a Bender’s job requirement to eradicate nightmares. So, we took up battle positions—Syd to its right, me to its left—crouched in anticipation of this formidable creature’s attack.

“I’ll go high, you go low,” I called to Syd. Besides a hideous appearance, the goat thing screeched like a deranged bird, and we strained to hear each other, even with the com units.

“Got it, Evan.” She unsheathed a ten-inch dagger from her utility belt, the silver blade glinting in the eerie cast of yellow-green light in this nightmare-scape. Being somewhat vertically-challenged (she hated it when I said short), Syd might not look intimidating, but give the girl a knife and she was absolutely lethal. The creature’s leg tendons would be sliced to ribbons in seconds.

Syd dived to the creature’s right, spinning and coming up behind it, as she avoided an angry kick to her head. She carved into its left limb, and it let out an ear-piercing shriek.

I withdrew an iron mallet from my own belt and catapulted myself off the wall, soaring over the goat-demon and landing a blow to the left side of its skull. Its head jerked in my direction when I came down on its other side. The sharpened tip of the horn caught the left side of my rib cage, and a warm flow of blood seeped through my shirt. Wouldn’t be the first time I’d walked away from a nightmare with a permanent scar.

Syd scrambled around its legs, careful not to be trampled. Her dagger was a silver blur as she slashed the gray-haired appendages, the goat-demon staggering in its efforts to avoid her blade.

The ground was wet—possibly blood. But with dream or nightmare creations, you couldn’t be sure. Because this thing’s creator was a scientist, they tended to more detail-oriented. Odds leaned in the blood direction.

The light around us took on a red hue. Did the ambient illumination correlate to the creature’s anger level? If yellow-green meant annoyed, did red mean take no prisoners?

-The Gemini Connection

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About the Author

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Teri Polen reads and watches horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and anything Marvel-related are likely to cause fangirl delirium. She lives in Bowling Green, KY with her husband, sons, and black cat. Her first novel, Sarah, a YA horror/thriller, was a horror finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Visit her online at www.teripolen.com

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dear janeDear Jane by Marina DelVecchio

Publication Date: January 3rd, 2019

Genre: YA/ Coming of Age

Kit Kat is a fifteen-year-old adoptee who writes letters to her favorite literary character, Jane Eyre, as a means of surviving a violent childhood in Greece and a harrowing adoption in New York that requires her to silence her memories and her voice. In writing letters to Jane, Kit Kat discovers a connection to literature that saves her life. Dear Jane is about family, love, forgiveness, and the power of a good book.

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For the next two weeks that I was in possession of your story, it was as if someone had seen me, claimed me. I had a sister, a mother, an aunt, a place in which I was loved and understood and cared for. I was connected to something solid and real, for even if the story wasn’t real, a real woman had written it, had understood the pain that comes with being rejected and lonely; the angst that comes with being a girl severed from her roots and family.

-Dear Jane

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About the Author

marina pic author

Marina DelVecchio is a college professor of literature and women’s studies and lives in North Carolina with her family. Her work can be found online at Ms. Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Tishman Review, Her Circle Ezine, and The New Agenda.

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Version 3Till It Stops Beating (The Maddie Chronicles #4) by Hannah R. Goodman

Publication Date: July 5th, 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary

Seventeen-year-old Maddie Hickman has always coped with anxiety by immersing herself into the latest self-help book. Then her grandmother is diagnosed with cancer, and she spirals so far downward that she almost risks losing everything she holds dear.

From applying to college to solving the mystery of why she detests jelly doughnuts to writing a novel for her senior project and reconnecting with an old flame (or two), the ever-mounting stress leads to an unexpected road trip where she is forced to listen to her wildly beating heart. It is only in the back of a convertible with pop music blasting, that she discovers what she needs in order to really live.

If your heart has ever hurt from beating widely, whether from anxiety or love, this book is the one to read.

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“I need to be with Bubbie. I want to be there every day. When she is sick or tired. When she needs help.” I take breath. “I will stay and take care of Bubbie and go to school in January.”

“I don’t like this idea,” Mom says.

Dad sips his coffee instead of gulps. “I don’t know if the deferment is a good idea or not,” he says. “But staying in California for that long? I think it’s sweet to want to stay and care of Bubbie, but what else will you be doing?” He looks at my mom.

Then Mom explodes. “Stan, she is not deferring.” Finally, she looks at me. “You are not deferring. I’m calling Emerson tomorrow to straighten this out.”

This is so ridiculous. When are they going to get it? I stand up. “You know what? This is crazy. I’ve been losing sleep and getting all panicky again over this for the past few weeks and for what? For what reason? Fear of disappointing you? And now here I am full-blown disappointing you both and I did not fall apart or die. I am still here. And so are you guys.” I think of Susan’s opening lines to her speech. Welcome to the last day of childhood. “I’m an adult now, Mom. You guys have to let me make my decisions, without trying to guilt me into doing what you want.” And with that, I walk my adult self out of the living room, and they don’t follow.

-Till It Stops Beating

About the Author

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Often referred to as “the teenage whisperer”, Hannah R. Goodman’s twenty-year career working with teenagers includes the titles teacher, tutor, coach, and, more recently, mental health counselor. Hannah has written essays about mental health for various online publications. Her work has appeared on MindBodyGreen, OC87 Recovery Diaries, Zencare.co, and The Mighty. Though she has previously earned the title author with her first three books, those were all were self-published. This time around, publisher Black Rose Writing released her novel Till It Stops Beating in July, 2018. Literary Titan’s review praised Till It Stops Beating for “tackling a difficult issue like anxiety and making a story that was funny and sweet without making light of the issue.” Hannah is a member of ARIA (Association of Rhode Island Authors) as well as a graduate of Pine Manor College’s Solstice Program in Creative Writing where she earned an MFA in Writing For Young People. She resides in Bristol, RI with her husband, two daughters, and black and white cat named Zoe.

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a step away coverA Step Away by G. Randy Kasten

Publication Date: February 7th, 2019

Genre: YA Thriller

Three friends, Brianna, Sean, and Robert, happen across a body buried in their neighborhood.

Because a police investigation might reveal that the trio is connected to a stolen motor, and that Sean’s mother was having a relationship with a neighbor, the three friends decide they must solve the apparent murder before contacting authorities.

In the process, they sneak into a house, befriend a vigilant neighbor with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and develop a friendship with a kind, older man.

Brianna becomes convinced that clues point to Sean’s father and realizes their detective work is doing more harm than good.

She makes tough choices that affect families and friendships.

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Right below the pipe, a human hand and wrist poked out from the dirt, its flesh partly rotted away. The fingers pointed at us.

I let out a panicked yell identical to Robert’s but stood frozen. A hot, prickly feeling crawled up my back as Sean as shouted to Robert. “You okay, Robber?” When Robert murmured a response, Sean scrambled down to the creek. “Cover it up!” he demanded as he went, pointing at me. “Cover it back up!”

“We can’t just…” I started.

“Cover it up!” Sean was bending over, one hand on Robert’s shoulder. “Just do it!”

I shoveled dirt and leaves at the void, breathing as little as possible and only glancing occasionally at the rotted appendage sticking out at me. Each scoop of crumbly soil slid back down, so finally I started stomping on it to get it to stay, right on top of the hand. I felt as if I was pressing down on something evil. Trying to keep it back. After a minute, Sean stood next to me working with Robert’s abandoned shovel. With his head turned away from the hole, he didn’t help much.

Robert sat where he was, letting out little wails every now and then. It wasn’t a sound like the pain of a sprained ankle or something. It was more like the desperate moans of someone who’d forgotten how to talk.

Once we managed to get the hand covered, we scrambled down the bank, grabbed Robert by his arms, then half carried him and the tools back to the workshop we’d taken over from Sean’s dad. After breathing the rotten stench of the creek, I barely noticed Robert’s smell and couldn’t get that image of the decaying hand out of my mind.

We set Robert down in one of the beaten-up old armchairs we’d dragged in there, then sank down ourselves, panting. The hot prickly feeling was still crawling all over me. Sean and I looked at each other for a few seconds, then away. Robert stared at the floor.

I’d never seen a real skeleton — or a dead body – before. The tuna sandwich I’d eaten an hour earlier seemed to be on a climb back up. I imagined the scene once we called the sheriff; Sean’s parents would arrive home to a flock of cop cars in the driveway. Maybe there’d be a coroner’s van. They’d love driving into that mess.

Then things went from bad to worse. Sean leaned forward and pointed one finger at me and one at Robert. “We can’t tell anyone about this.”

Robert peered out from under the layer of the coarse black hair fallen in front of his eyes. “But Sean, somebody buried a body.”

“We know that, Robert,” Sean snapped. His nasty scowl reminded me of his father. “But nobody else is going to know that.”

“Why not?” that high voice again. “That body where it is, it’s not by accident.”

Sean turned to me, “Brianna, you know why we can’t tell anyone.” Like he was pleading with me. “You know.”

-A Step Away

About the Author

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After some childhood acting and living in England for a year, I graduated from Reed College, then attended law school. As a litigator in California and Washington State for thirty years, I learned a great deal about what people really want, and also how humor helps in tough situations.

Writing remains my main interest. I am the author of Just Trust Me: Finding the Truth in the World of Spin (Quest Books, 2011), a book about discerning truth from appearances. My young adult novel, A Step Away, will be published by Black Rose in 2019.

I have also written a couple of short plays, which were performed at a local theatre in Marin County, CA. The Ribbons Agency is a nearly completed satirical book about the arduous task of securing a literary agent. On a more serious note, I am working on a non fiction book that presents a unique, logical reason to believe that greater international peace is inevitable.

A resident of San Francisco’s east bay for most of my life, I have lived along Hood Canal (a fjord and part of Puget Sound) in Washington State for the past three years. I’m still adapting to the weather, though it keeps me inside and productive most of the year. When not writing, I’m enjoying the outdoors or playing improvisational piano.

G. Kasten

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If you have children, there is a new book out by Carey Fessler called Foiled that would be right up their alley! You can buy it on Amazon!

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Make your special day sparkle with elegant sophistication.Send your guests home with favors that are tasteful and practical. They will forever remember your wedding thanks to these beautifully designed styles.

Book Highlight: The Little Book Of Stoicism

Hey bookworms! Today we would like to share a little book highlight for an author we have been chatting with. They are releasing a book at the end of the month and are very excited about it. Here is a little preview on the book!


Where can you find joy? Gain strength? How should we face our fears? Deal with the death of a loved one? And what about those reoccurring depressing thoughts?

While traditional schooling doesn’t address such questions, it’s exactly what ancient schools of philosophy were all about: They taught you how to live. Even though these schools don’t exist anymore, you and I and most people are in as much need of a philosophy that guides us through life as we ever were.

This compelling, highly actionable guide shows you how to deal more effectively with whatever life throws at you and live up to your best self.

A mix of timeless wisdom and empowering advice, The Little Book of Stoicism will point the way to anyone seeking a calm and wise life in a chaotic world.

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Title: The Little Book of Stoicism
Author: Jonas Salzgeber
Publisher: Indie
Genre: Non-Fiction (Philosophy, Psychology, Personal Development)
Release Date: January 28th, 2019

For more information about the book, visit https://www.njlifehacks.com/the-little-book-of-stoicism/.

About the Author

Author-Photo-Jonas-Salzgeber

Jonas Salzgeber is an author and writes for a small army of remarkable people at NJlifehacks.com. On his quest to be the best he can be he stumbled upon Stoicism – and got hooked. His practical writing style helps people with the most important step: to put the wisdom from book page to action.

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