Book Spotlight: Dueling Fates

For fans of GOT and Throne of Glass, comes fantasy novel Dueling Fates by Stephanie M. Allen. Read on for book details, and an exclusive excerpt!

Dueling Fates CoverDueling Fates

Publication Date: June 30th, 2020

Genre: Fairy Tale/ Fantasy

Publisher: Liminal Books

In the world of Erez, three kingdoms share a tentative peace. In the far west, Princess Isemay yearns for much more than frilly dresses and etiquette classes. While her twin sister, Alena, prepares for life as a monarch in a neighboring kingdom, Isemay roams the woods with her loyal cheetah, hunting dagger strapped to her belt. It’s only when two surprising visitors arrive at the castle that Isemay must come to terms with her royal future – and a secret magical heritage. Now engaged to the king of the east, Isemay prepares for a position she never wanted.

After saying good-bye to all that she loves, Princess Alena travels north in trepidation – fully prepared to marry a spoiled prince she does not desire and usurp the throne from his insane father who does not deserve it. But when tragedy strikes at her wedding ceremony and she is wrongfully imprisoned, she can only hope that her hurried plea for help will reach her father in time.

Frantic to save her sister – and against the wishes of her betrothed – Isemay joins the army sent to free Alena. A mysterious encounter with a dragon in disguise leaves her with a warning that her life is in danger – but can it save her from the battle to come?

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Excerpt

Reaching the first tree, Isemay gently placed her palm on the rough bark and scanned the shaded area directly in front of her. The bright sun made it difficult to see much detail in the shadows, but her eyes adjusted quickly. Golda stood perfectly still next to her, one paw lifted off the ground, the bushy fur around her neck raised higher than normal. Movement to the left caught Isemay’s eye. She yelped in fright at what she saw.

A huge black wolf, larger than any she had ever seen, was standing a mere ten feet away, piercing yellow eyes trained on her. A low rumbling sound was vibrating from its chest and its lips were lifted in a snarl.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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Stephanie M. Allen graduated from California Baptist University in 2009 with a B.A. in English and a desire to share her imaginative stories with the world. She loves to write fantasy, particularly centered around young adults. Aside from writing, Stephanie loves to read, ride horses, and sing. She currently lives in Wyoming with her husband and two children.

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Book Spotlight: Telephone Road

Looking for the perfect twisty thriller, try Telephone Road by Ann Swann! 

TelephoneRoadEbookCoverUse

Telephone Road

Publication Date: August 4th

Genre: Thriller

Publisher5 Prince Publishing

Marlena caught the eye of one of the richest, hottest guys on campus, Preston. But when her attention shifts, and she falls in love with a hometown boy, Jimmy, she finds out that Preston is also deeply disturbed.

What follows is a life-changing evening out on Telephone Road, and Marlena knows she will never be the same when she takes matters into her own hands.

Justice has a new meaning. It’s called revenge.

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Excerpt

The remains of the sunset reflecting across the rippling water drew me to lean down and dip my fingers into the cold, bubbling flow. The sounds lent a storybook feel to the scene. The air was cool and still, fragrant with the loamy, nose-tickling scent of damp earth and fresh water. Multicolored leaves and drifts of pine needles carpeted the ground, softening our steps and turning the whole area into a painter’s fall palette.

I sat cross-legged on the plaid blanket he’d spread. “This is kind of amazing,” I admitted around a mouthful of pizza. “How’d you find it?”

              Preston looked into the distance. “I spend a lot of time in the woods,” he said. “It’s my refuge. I just needed you to share it with me.”

              He looked at me and I knew, suddenly and without a shred of doubt, that I had made a huge mistake. His light blue eyes had gone as cold as the water in the creek.

              I tried not to panic, tried to keep my suspicions in check, but alarm bells clanged inside my head. “It’s really beautiful,” I said. “Thank you for sharing it with me.” I put one hand down to push myself to my feet. “Now I’ve really got to get back—”

              He grabbed my shoulder, forcing me to remain seated on the blanket. For a moment, I had a ridiculous hope that he was playing, roughhousing the way Jim and I had done. But when he held me there, when his other hand clamped down on my opposite shoulder, when he smashed me backward onto the remains of the pizza, I knew this was no game.

              “Stop!” I cried. “What are you—?”

              His face came closer and closer, his lips questing.

              I jerked my head from side to side. “Preston, stop! What’re you doing?”

              His weight pinned me to the blanket, his hard chin dug into the side of my neck. He tried to hold my face still without using his hands.

              “I love you.” His voice had gone as hard and cold as his eyes. “I know you love me, too. I don’t know why you won’t show it.”

              His lips found mine and he let go of my right shoulder long enough to tangle his fingers into my hair.

              My head was trapped. Anger crashed through my body. I jerked my head aside to get his mouth off mine. Strands of my hair were ripped out of my scalp, but suddenly my hands were fighting, clawing, raking at his face, his clothing, his skin. Anything to get him off me.

              He tightened his grip on my hair but his other hand came up holding the campfire lighter. Just as he depressed the trigger to ignite it, my right hand found the wine bottle lying on its side. I wrapped my fingers around the neck of the bottle and swung it through the air, smashing it into the side of his head with as much force as I could muster.

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About the Author

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Ann has been a writer since junior high, but to pay the bills she has waited tables, delivered newspapers, cleaned other people’s houses, taught school, and had a stint as a secretary in a rock-n-roll radio station.

She also worked as a 911 operator and a police dispatcher.

Her fiction began to win awards during her college days. Since then she’s published several short stories, novels, and novellas. She’s always reading and always writing, but even if she never sold another story, Ann would not stop writing. For her it’s a necessity, like breathing. Most of the time, it even keeps her sane.

Ann Swann | Facebook | Goodreads

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Book Spotlight: From Then To Now

Welcome to the blog tour for From Then to Now by Mitzi Mensch! Read on for details and a chance to win a print copy of the book!

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From Then to Now

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Author House

From Then to Now is a novel within a novel. Maggie figures that, with events being so old, it is safe to tell all. Figuring wrong is her first mistake. Downloading the manuscript onto her grown daughter’s computer is her second mistake.
Andrea is dismayed to discover Maggie’s infidelity in her first marriage and shocked to learn of her grandmother’s cloistered pregnancy and forced adoption of her newborn daughter. She uses the Internet to find the people mentioned in her mother’s story, more to satisfy her own curiosity than to bring her mother peace.
From Then to Now spans six decades and addresses changes, both individual and societal, in attitude, perception, and awareness. These changes, triggered in part by outside world events, bring about personal understanding achieved only after loss is experienced and enlightenment has been attained.

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Excerpt

I must have gone too far on Waialae Avenue because all of a sudden I was on a freeway and then the freeway turned into a winding road cut through a sheer cliff. There was no place to turn around so I kept going and watched in wonder at the water pounding the rocks below and the vast expanse of blue ocean beyond. I was ten minutes late for my assignment. This was the road — I recognized it — where they had filmed Blue Hawai`i, with Elvis. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. So far all I’d seen was Schofield, Waikiki, downtown. Now I was in Hawai`i. The assignment no longer mattered. I stopped at a look-out point called the Blow Hole and peered down at a rock with a hole in it where the water spouted up like a whale. I watched, mesmerized, for time indeterminate, enthralled at the energy of the ocean. I had to see more. Continuing on I drove past a beach where body-boarders sailed through the surf and flew through the foam, flipping just in time to escape the fury before the waves crashed straight down on the sand with frightening ferocity. When I thought I’d seen all the glory this island could possibly offer, I came to another place where the road steepened precipitously and the view was more spectacular, if imaginable, than before. I craned my neck to see what beauty lay beneath the guard rails but the sharp curves forced me to focus on the wheel. I turned the bend and there was Sea Life Park on the mountain, or mauka side of the road as Glen had taught me to say, and on the ocean side, or makai, was Makapu`u. I drove down, parked, took off my shoes, walked to the beach. It was so beautiful. I sat on a rock to take in the majesty and totally gave up on the assignment. I thought of Michener’s words in the first chapter of Hawaii, the book I was reading, about the creation of the islands. About the force deep below the sea which built and grew until volcanic eruptions burst through the surface and left molten deposits which cooled and became rocks. I thought about the birds, from far away, flying over, dropping seeds, creating vegetation. I thought about the marvel of how these islands were formed, then found, and inhabited, and now here I was, a tiny, insignificant speck on the face of the earth, sitting on a rock, at the edge of an island, in the middle of the sea, in the most beautiful place in the world. As I felt the water lap at my feet and the sun caress my skin I knew, without a doubt, I was the luckiest person who ever lived. When I finally got back to my car there was a cop, writing a ticket.

Available on Amazon and at Author House

About the Author

Mitzi Mensch

Mitzi Mensch was born and raised in New England and attended college in Vermont. An island girl at heart, she moved to Hawai’i, where she has lived long enough to be a kama`aina.

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FromThentoNow

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Book Spotlight: Conscience

Congratulations to author Jonathan Pongratz on the release of his latest short story, Conscience! Here’s an exclusive excerpt and book details!

ConscienceCoverConscience

Publication Date: August 27th, 2020

Genre: Sci-Fi/ Short Story

Rory Bennels lives in a world ruled by a business entity known as the Corporation. For years he’s executed cerebral uploads for the recently deceased, but when the famed anarchist Epher Lore ends up in his lab, a series of events occur that shakes Rory’s world to the core.

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Excerpt

“We’re losing him,” the surgeon’s tense voice cut through the viewing room’s speaker.

Rory Bennels leaned against the glass to the operating room as the surgeon barked orders at the nurses and red plated medbots tending to the man splayed out on the surgery table. The patient’s body seized in violent tremors, blood oozing through wounds in his forehead, chest, and abdomen. Rory stared on in concern, his skin tingling as he recognized the man. 

Epher Lore, the last leader of the Free Thinkers movement.

From his digital news updates, Rory knew of the Corporation’s efforts to track down this anarchist. However, as he looked upon Epher’s broken body, curiosity sparked in his mind.

This man, dangerous? He couldn’t have been older than twenty-five. What was it about him that made the Corporation nervous?

A sharp zap at the base of his neck made Rory clench his teeth. Heart pounding, he looked to the watch on his wrist. It flashed red in quick bursts. Crap! That was the second time this week. If he kept upsetting his emotion-monitoring implant, they’d come to clean him. Like the Corporation said, ‘Emotions lead to questions. Questions lead to independent thought. Independent thought leads to anarchy.’

Rory straightened his back, reciting the Corporation’s Preamble to suppress his deviant thoughts. We, the subordinates of the Corporation, in order to form a more perfect human, establish authority, ensure uniformity … 

He glanced at his black-banded watch again and gave a sigh of relief. Blue skies. 

The harsh monotonous buzz of the heart monitor blared through the speakers, demanding Rory’s attention. The surgeon took off his gloves and told the one-eyed medbots to record the time of death. He exited the operating room, Rory mulling over the peculiar situation before the surgeon entered the viewing room moments later.

“I take it you’re Rory Bennels?” the surgeon asked in a cold, clinical tone.

“That’s right.”

He handed Rory a thin tablet that activated upon his touch. “Retrieve this man’s mind. Upload it to the Corporation mainframe.”

Rory scanned the digital dossier, then gazed upon Epher’s covered body on the gurney.

“Is something wrong?” 

“Epher Lore, isn’t he–“

“That information is not relevant,” the surgeon snapped. He grimaced at Rory with calculating gray eyes. “Are you sweating?”

Stay calm, stay calm. Rory maintained eye contact. “Minor synaptic misfire,” he explained, flashing his watch that glowed a healthy bright blue.

The surgeon nodded, ushering Rory to follow him to collect the body.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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Jonathan Pongratz is a writer and author of captivating horror, urban fantasy, and paranormal stories. When he’s not writing, he’s busy being a bookworm, video game junkie, and karaoke vocalist. A former resident of Dallas, he currently resides in Kansas City with his halloween cat Ajax. By day he works magic in finance, by night he creates dark and mesmerizing worlds.

Jonathan Pongratz | Facebook | Goodreads | Tublr

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Book Spotlight: The Road to Delano

Welcome to the blog tour for historical fiction, The Road to Delano by John DeSimone!

The Road to Delano Cover 2D bThe Road to Delano

Publication Date: March 10, 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Coming of Age

Publisher: Rare Bird Books

Jack Duncan is a high school senior whose dream is to play baseball in college and beyond―as far away from Delano as possible. He longs to escape the political turmoil surrounding the labor struggles of the striking fieldworkers that infests his small ag town. Ever since his father, a grape grower, died under suspicious circumstances ten years earlier, he’s had to be the sole emotional support of his mother, who has kept secrets from him about his father’s involvement in the ongoing labor strife.

With their property on the verge of a tax sale, Jack drives an old combine into town to sell it so he and his mother don’t become homeless. On the road, an old friend of his father’s shows up and hands him the police report indicating Jack’s father was murdered. Jack is compelled to dig deep to discover the entire truth, which throws him into the heart of the corruption endemic in the Central Valley. Everything he has dreamed of is at stake if he can’t control his impulse for revenge.

While Jack’s girlfriend, the intelligent and articulate Ella, warns him not to so anything to jeopardize their plans of moving to L.A., after graduation, Jack turns to his best friend, Adrian, a star player on the team, to help to save his mother’s land. When Jack’s efforts to rescue a stolen piece of farm equipment leaves Adrian―the son of a boycotting fieldworker who works closely with Cesar Chavez―in a catastrophic situation, Jack must bail his friend out of his dilemma before it ruins his future prospects. Jack uses his wits, his acumen at card playing, and his boldness to raise the money to spring his friend, who has been transformed by his jail experience.

The Road to Delano is the path Jack, Ella, and Adrian must take to find their strength, their duty, their destiny.

“This whole story is an absolute triumph!”
Thehauntedfae Book Blog

The Road to Delano is a compelling story that will leave readers thinking about its surprise ending long after the final confrontation comes to a head.”    ―California Bookwatch

“Five Stars. Outstanding writing, fast-paced. A must-read for people who love history AND baseball.” ―ReedsyDiscovery

“I really enjoyed this story. It’s more than a little Steinbeck, in a very good way…”  —Leigh Anne, Book Sirens 

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Ash Wednesday

Monday at lunch, Jack and Ella settled on the grassy school quad. The morning haze, a gray dullness, hung over them. Ella in a long skirt and T-shirt printed with her favorite saying played her guitar. Jack ate slowly, as Ella gently strummed a Joan Baez song.

She let the last chord vibrate in the air. “You look far away today, Jack.”

“Just thinking.”

“Worried about the big game?” She strummed a C chord.

“Not really. I’m ready for those guys.” As crucial as the Arvin game was to his chances for a scholarship, his head spun with Herm, the sheriff, and lost combine. He needed to set all that aside.

But how?

“You’re worried about losing that combine, aren’t you?”

He shrugged and glanced off into the haze. Herm’s beat-up face filled him with too many questions, ones he would rather not ask.

“What do you think happened to it?”

Jack did his best to suppress a frown. He spent the next twenty minutes explaining how Sheriff Grant found Herm Gordon face down in the mud and how their combine had gone missing. Short of stealing someone else’s machine and selling it to pay the taxes, he didn’t have too many ideas about what he could do to save his mom’s place.

“Jack, you have to protest. Write to the newspaper. Make noise until the sheriff finds your combine. Someone knew you needed that money to save your property.”

Ella’s sense of urgency hovered over her, an impending sense of doom that required her to stand up and shout to drive it away. She had been this way since he first met her, always ready to protest. Vietnam had taken up most of her attention. But it was their trip to Berkeley a couple of years ago that had set her on fire, and had almost got Jack arrested in front of Sproul Hall.

Two years ago, their sophomore debate team had joined the junior and senior team on a field trip to UC Berkeley to observe a statewide competition. They left Delano before dawn and talked for the entire four-hour bus ride. That was something he had never done with any girl. They sat across from each other, an aisle between them. Her darting green eyes held his interest. Life shot out of them, beautiful and intelligent in the same instant.

They debated the war in Vietnam, who killed JFK, the likelihood of a gunman on the grassy knoll, the Selma march, the Freedom Riders, Malcolm X, the Black Panthers—she had an opinion on everything. Mostly, she made sense. The girl’s intensity at times unsettled him, but it mostly intrigued him.

During the debate competition in a Berkeley auditorium, shortly after the lunch break, Ella leaned into him in the dark. “Meet me outside on the steps in a few minutes.”

Without waiting for an answer, she rose and disappeared. Jack stewed in his seat, trying to figure out what she was up to. He wouldn’t miss much if he left. Besides, her sense of adventure piqued him. A few minutes later, he found her outside the glass doors on the steps. In the breeze, her brown hair, straight and long, riffled across her mischievous smile.

“There’s an FSM rally on the other side of the campus. Go with me. We’ll be back in plenty of time.” “A what?” he asked.

“You know, the Free Speech Movement. Please, go with me,” she pleaded with her green eyes. “Mario Savio is going to speak.”

From the way she threw out his name, he was someone Jack should know. He had never heard of the Free Speech Movement, or Savio, whoever he was. Jack glanced back to the doors.

“They’ll be in there for hours.” She took his hand. He marveled at her warm grasp. He liked it.

They made their way through a maze of buildings. She must have had this all planned out. She led him directly to a large plaza packed with students milling about. Some sat, most stood talking and smoking, and clouds of strange smelling smoke wafted over the crowd. A line of cops stood on the fringes of the crowd. They fidgeted with their batons.

The two of them were so far back, they could hardly make out what the speaker was saying. Ella pushed her way toward the front, and Jack held on. Had she done this before? She stopped when they were about twenty feet from the speaker, who read a list of students who were being expelled. People were booing.

A new speaker came to the microphone, a tall wiry-haired student in a white shirt and sheepskin-lined jacket. Electricity seemed to shoot right out of his hair. The crowd around Jack murmured, likely wondering what this guy was going to say. Ella squeezed his hand tighter. He didn’t dare let go of her, afraid they’d get separated in the jostling crowd.

The crowd hushed when the man with the electric hair started to speak. He had a machine-gun delivery. His message burst from him with so much energy the entire crowd leaned in for more. His lips moved like waves, every word coated with fire.

I ask you to consider if this university is a firm…we’re the raw materials.

And we don’t mean to be made into any product…to be bought by anyone.

We’re human beings!

The crowd applauded, and Ella loosed her hand to clap and shout.

There’s a time the operation of the machine becomes so odious… you can’t take part.

You’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears…upon the levers… and you’ve got to make it stop.…Unless you’re free, the machine won’t be prevented from working.

The crowd broke into more applause. Kids were yelling their agreement. Jack wasn’t clear what machine the guy was talking about, or what freedom he didn’t have, and what gears needed to be stopped. Then the speaker introduced Joan Baez, and the crowd went crazy with chatter and clapping.

She started singing a Bob Dylan song, and a hush fell over everyone.

How many times can a man turn his head And pretend that he doesn’t see?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind… Ella hopped up and down on the balls of her feet.

Baez started up another song, “We shall overcome…,” and everyone joined in, the crowd swayed with the words. Something great, something powerful was about to break open here. He took Ella’s hand, and she gave him a complicit smile. She held him tight as if she feared she would float away in the euphoria of the moment.

When the song ended, she pulsed forward. Jack dared not let her go as they slipped between applauding students who hovered around the famous singer. Ella ascended right up to the great Joan Baez, her long black hair draped over her shoulders, her guitar slung over her neck.

Ella tried to talk calmly, but she only stammered.

“Did you want an autograph, honey?”

Ella had a confused look as if the question she wanted to ask had slipped away.

“Do you go to school here?”

Ella shook her head. “Delano High School.”

“Look,” Baez pointed over Ella’s shoulder. “You guys got to get out of here. There’s going to be trouble.”

At the far end of the crowd, cops were forcing students to move. Cop cars with lights flashing swarmed into the quad forcing students toward them. Panicked voices, screams, and shouting rose in the quad. Police vans rolled into the quad, lights flashing, the short squawks of their sirens stirred up the crowd.

Available on Amazon

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About the Author

John DeSimone-Blue Shirt

John DeSimone is a novelist, memoirist, and editor. He’s co-authored bestselling The Broken Circle: A memoir of escaping Afghanistan, and others. He taught writing as an adjunct professor at Biola University and has worked as a freelance editor and writer for nearly twenty years. His current release, a historical novel, The Road to Delano, is a coming of age novel set during the Delano grape strike led by Cesar Chavez. BookSirens said, “It’s more than a little Steinbeck, in a good way….” He lives in Claremont, Ca, and can be found on Goodreads and at  www.johndesimone.com

Blog Tour Schedule

August 3rd

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1

The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

August 4th

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

Bookriot (Spotlight) http://anjedah.wordpress.com

Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://www.tsarinapress.com

August 5th

@a.p.reading (Review) https://www.instagram.com/a.p.reading/

@kikis_books (Review) https://www.instagram.com/kikis_books/

Inked & Blonde (Review) https://inkedandblonde.blogspot.com/

August 6th

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

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

Jessica Belmont (Spotlight) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

August 7th

Meli’s Book Reviews (Review) https://melisbokreviews.wordpress.com/

@district.reads (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/district.reads/

Entertainingly Nerdy (Spotlight) https://www.entertaininglynerdy.com

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It’s that time of year again where we take our final exams for the Magical Readathon and this will be the last one because G from Book Roast will be switching it up which is sad but understandable. So these are all the books I will be reading for my NEWT exams. Check out the video below:

Book Review: Billionaire Boss, Undercover Affair

Sooooo I read a romance book….and I liked it! I had no idea what I was getting into going into this but ended up enjoying the experience. This one was called Billionaire Boss, Undercover Affair by Kyra Radcliff.

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Synopsis: Susan Johansen is efficient, ambitious and cool-headed in a crisis, which is exactly why her boss, Charles Dunlap, needs her. As the successful owner of one of the richest old money industrialist conglomerates in the world, he is under pressure of a different kind when his daughter Alicia becomes involved with internet entrepreneur Miles Middleton.

With an ego as big as his bank balance, Miles has a reputation for a string of affairs and Charles doesn’t want his daughter anywhere near him. And so he enlists Susan, as a Trojan Horse, burying her deep within Miles’ business interests in the hope that she can sabotage his relationship with Alicia.

It isn’t long before the plan seems to be working and Miles is missing lunches, dinners and other dates with Alicia in favour of making money and sealing deals. But it’s when he takes Susan away on a business trip and tries to seduce her that she sees him for what he really is. But now that she is close to her goal, Susan suddenly has a crisis of confidence? Is she really still working for Charles or is she now pursuing her own agenda with Miles?

As he continues to get under her skin with his continuous attempts at seduction, Susan finds that she is more conflicted than ever. And the closer she gets to completing the assignment, the greater the chances are that Miles will discover her secret.

I have read maybe one other romance book before and remember not liking it because of some of the odd content that it involved but this time around, I actually had a pretty good time with it! The book was well crafted with a story that gets right into it.

It is a very quick read and I will admit, at times, I was getting a little turned on reading this book. I can see why people like this genre. Some of the descriptions in the sexual scenes made me laugh because of how ridiculous it was but that just amplified my enjoyment of the book.

The narrative was a little bit predictable in my opinion but I was invested none the less and flew through this book. The jealousy I was feeling was real since the characters in this book got to travel all over the world. That is the dream.

I would definitely read more books by Kyra and be interested in reading more romance in general after experiencing this one.

Book Rating: 3.5/5

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

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me in ebook format by Dawn Hill Publications in exchange for an honest review.



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Hey everyone! I did an author interview with Lisa Luciano, author of the mystery crime novel The Chosen Ones! It is a book that goes inside the scandalous & icy world of Olympic figure skating. Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: Return Addresses

Welcome to the blog tour for Return Addresses by Michael A. McLellan! This book is getting loads of 5 star reviews! Find out why! Read on for an excerpt and a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card!

New Final FINAL 4Return Addresses

Publication Date: April 13, 2020

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Mountain Press

“This ain’t your world. You don’t have any friends out here. Not real ones. No one out here cares about nothin’ but where their next drink or fix is comin’ from. That, or they were born too messed up in the head to even understand what friendship is. Remember that. You can’t trust anybody. You can’t rely on no one but yourself.”

Fourteen-year-old Sean Pennington never thought he’d find himself riding on an open train car in the middle of the night. He never thought he’d find himself alone. He never thought he’d be running for his life.

In the spring of 2015 Sean Pennington’s world of comfort and privilege is shattered and he becomes a ward of the state. Thrust into a broken foster care system, he discovers the harsh realities of orphanhood. Lonely, confused, and tormented by his peers, he runs away, intending to locate his only living relative; a grandfather he’s never met, who his only connection with is a return address on a crumpled envelope. Enter Andrea, a modern day hobo Sean meets at a California homeless encampment. Andrea travels the country by rail, stowing away on shipping container cars with other transients calling themselves traveling kids. Though battling her own demons, road-savvy Andrea promises to help Sean on his quest, but can she protect him from the unpredictable and often violent world she lives in?

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Excerpt

“Listen, what I told you before…you know, about my parents? It wasn’t true. My parents are the most wonderful people you’d ever want to meet. I’m the problem, not them. I’ve always been the problem. I met someone at the beginning of my junior year. She came from a bad family—drugs. I started drinking with her. Then I started using with her. Meth, mostly, but I ended up taking pretty much anything I could get my hands on. I failed my junior year and never went back to high school. Anyway, my parents tried to help me—a lot. I put them through hell but they just kept trying. Finally they sent me to this really expensive rehab. I only made it three days before I ran away and used. My dad ended up finding me and he talked me into going back. I did better the second time. I completed the six months, graduated, and went back to live with my mom and dad. Everything was cool for awhile. I got a job at a thrift store and enrolled in Adult Ed to get my high school equivalency. After awhile—a couple of months—I started using again. I think I always knew I would. It was like, in my mind I was just taking a break, and only because it was what my parents wanted.”

“Are you ever going to go home?”

 “I think about it now and then. Mostly I don’t—think about it I mean. Not until I met you, anyway. I feel even more guilty now, seeing what you’ve had to go through. You lost both of your parents, by no fault of yours…and I just left mine behind.”

“Why did you tell me they were…mean.”

“Because the truth makes me look like a bad person. I am a bad person.”

“I don’t think so.” He paused, absently fiddling with sandwich wrapper. “Does it bother you…when people…say stuff to you?”

“You mean like those idiots who yelled at me from their cars?”

“Yeah.”

She took a long pull from her bottle of beer. “I don’t know. I try not to think about it. I guess it does, sometimes. When I was growing up I would’ve looked at someone like me the same way people always look at me. It’s all a matter of perspective. Now I try not to judge.” She smiled ruefully and drank more. “I try not to judge even when I’m being judged.”

Now Available on Amazon!

Giveaway: For a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card, click the link below!

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About the Author

Mike Author 1

Michael’s love of books began with Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle when he was seven-years-old. Later influenced by the works of John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Stephen King, James Baldwin, and Cormac McCarthy, Michael developed his style of storytelling. A self-proclaimed blue-collar writer, he draws on his experiences and observations to bring relevant and compelling topics to life.

Michael lives in Northern California and when he’s not writing, he can usually be found wandering around the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges.

His body of work includes the 2014 novel After and Again, the 2015 novel American Flowers, and the 2017 novel, In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, as well as various shorts and essays.

Michael McLellan | GoodreadsTwitter



Blog Tour Schedule

June 15th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://www.tsarinapress.com

Read, Rant, Rock and Roll (Review) https://readrantrockandroll.com/

The Cozy Pages (Spotlight) http://thecozypages.wordpress.com/

June 16th

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

The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

June 17th

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

I’m All About Books (Spotlight) https://imallaboutbooks.com/

Books, Teacup n’ Review (Spotlight) https://booksteacupnreviews.wordpress.com/

Rajiv’s Reviews (Review) https://www.rajivsreviews.com/

Stine Writing (Review) https://christinebialczak.com/

June 18th

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

Dark Whimsical Art (Spotlight) https://www.darkwhimsicalart.com/blogs/news

Book Reviews by Satabdi (Review) http://satabdimukherjee.wordpress.com

June 19th

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Review) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/

Entertainingly Nerdy (Review) https://www.entertaininglynerdy.com

Phantom of the Library (Review) https://phantomofthelibrary.com/

Inked and Blonde (Review) https://inkedandblonde.blogspot.com/

Blog Tour Organized By:

R&R Button

R&R Book Tours



Thank you to our Patreon Supporters:

Get your name/blog added to our blog posts and Youtube videos by supporting us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/breakevenbooks

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I did the Breakfast Booktag! Listen to me talk about breakfast foods and pair books with them. Check out the video below:

Book Review: Mr. Wizard

Do you have good and bad reading weeks? We do too. But luckily for us, this week has been a good reading week. Our external reviewer Chris has a new review of Mr. Wizard by Jeff Wallach for us to read.

Mr. Wizard book cover

Synopsis: Two days before her death, Jenny Elliot suggests to her fifty-year-old son Phillip that, being half Irish, he should be more careful about his drinking. Phillip, along with his brother Spencer, has grown up believing they were the fully Jewish-American offspring of Jenny and her late husband who died in the Vietnam War. Was his mother uttering some dementia-inspired fantasy, or was her true character shining through in her last moments to leave the brothers a clue to their real heritage? After her death, Phillip decides to take a DNA test.

The brothers set off on a genetic treasure hunt in search of who they really are—and what that might mean. Are they purely products of their genetics; or were they formed more completely by their social interactions and upbringing? Are they merely victims of randomness; or are they some combination of those factors? And who, exactly, is Mr. Wizard?

Jeff Wallach is a gifted writer. He brings his characters to life with sparse broad strokes similar to the way a painter can create a recognizable negative space portrait using a wide brush for painting houses.

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In any field, when someone can make the difficult appear easy then you know you’re dealing with an artist. Wallach makes creating real characters look effortless. We’re brought inside the family with inside jokes so when the brothers quip one-liners the readers know the story behind the one-liner, thus making them feel as if they’re also in on the inside joke. For example, when one of the brothers says over the phone to the other brother (paraphrased so as to avoid spoilers) “now she really is a liar”, and the other ones says, “She’s dead then”, you understand the backstory, the inside joke, and how he knows she’s dead. So much information conveyed with such simple sentences, a bit like Tamarian language in Star Trek. Anyone wishing to be an author should study how Wallach makes his characters real to the readers, how he can describe characters without actually describing them. I thoroughly admired this aspect of his writing.

Aside from admiring and liking his technical mastery Wallach has written a lovely book, one of the best that I’ve read this year. After Phillip and Spencer’s mom dies—which she does in one sentence that grabs the reader with its sparseness—they begin to wonder about their father because of their mother’s last cryptic statement. Was he really killed in action, where did he come from, where was his family, is he really their father, why was their mother so cryptic about his past and her past? I was pulled right into the detective work.

The pacing slows about 2/3rds of the way through. The detective work seems to have found the answers and the book switches from unraveling mysteries to dealing with the implications of what these discoveries mean for the brothers. Are brother’s brothers and family’s families because of genetics? What role does nurture and shared lifestyle play in families, or does genetics rule all? Are you any less of a family when you find out you’re not who you thought you were?

For me, this was the least interesting part of the book because long ago I arrived at decisions that satisfy me. Other people though may find the discussions—woven throughout with the typical brothers’ one-liners and humor that make the book so engaging—equally as interesting.

Not all mysteries were answered. The mystery surrounding Mr. Wizard and another person who had an eerily similar fate as Mr. Wizard were not answered. Was it coincidence or something more? But, perhaps this is as it should be—life isn’t always wrapped up like a neat package; there are often loose ends, unanswered questions, questions that may require half a lifetime to answer, and another half a lifetime to accept. However, I had thought there’d be more of a focus on the Mr. Wizard aspect given that’s the title of the book.

Then again, that fits the quirky book chapter names. Chapters are named after people or things that are mentioned just once and that have no real relevance to the story itself. E.g., the chapter named Mick Jagger is based on an irrelevant joke. Other parts of that chapter deal with more seminal issues that are central to the characters and the story itself, such as the story of the mulligan (which would be a good chapter name except then Wallach would break the pattern of naming chapters after non-incidents). Incidentally, I thought the mulligan story, which gives insight into the character of Spencer and the golf pro, was done well. You’ll have to read it for yourself.

I highly recommend this book. Enjoyable, witty, with likable relatable characters as they seek to discover their mother’s secrets and deal with answers they receive. And it has a touching ending. Who doesn’t like a touching ending?

Book Rating: 5/5

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

Disclaimer: The author sent this book to us in an ebook format to read and give an honest review.



Thank you to our Patreon Supporters:

Get your name/blog added to our blog posts and Youtube videos by supporting us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/breakevenbooks

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I did the Breakfast Booktag! Listen to me talk about breakfast foods and pair books with them. Check out the video below:

Blogger Interview: Chris Connors

Guess what? Chris (our external reviewer) and I thought it would be a fun little project to interview each other since he recently started a blog online and post our interviews with each other on our blogs. So here is my little interview I conducted with Chris to get a little insight into his reading habits and tastes.

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What is your top read of 2020 so far? 

A Wilder Time: Notes From a Geologist at the Edge of the Greenland Ice, William E. Glassley. A beautiful lyrically written book about Greenland’s beauty and atmosphere, as well as thoughts on life, what is essential vs the things society falsely tells us are essential.

 What is your favorite book friendship? 

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his friendship with the people of Three Pines. The kindness and strength of Gamache makes you wish he was real so he could be your friend too. Don’t read the book while hungry—you’ll drool all over the pages where the Three Pines bistro meals are described.

 Most anticipated book release of 2020?

Martha Wells’ Network Effect (A Murderbot full-length novel). Murderbot’s internal dialogue when it/she deals with people trying to be friendly has me laughing in empathy.

 How many books are in your TBR Pile? 

Mwahahahahahahahaaa! So many that realistically I won’t read them all. More arrive from the library every week.

 Shelf TBR: ~40

Kindle 1 TBR: 516

Kindle 2 TBR:  95

Audiobook TBR: 12 (two added in the 30 minutes writing this)

Library Hold TBR: 10 TBR

File Folder to Transfer to Kindle: 59

And this doesn’t include the batch I put on hold from your 5-star hopeful books.


Who is your favorite author?

That changes all the time. Often it is the author I just finished reading if they’ve written a good book. Sometimes it is an author who has only written one book 15 years ago, but it’s a book that stayed with me. When they write a second book I buy it/borrow it from library right away (as just happened this past week and I’m all “squeeeeee”).


Where is your favorite reading spot? 

In British Columbia on a porch with an overhang so I can read while it rains. I was recently gifted a new Kindle (thanks, sis!) with a backlight so I can read outside at night. A good long BC steady rain with fog and mist makes reading even more magical because sounds are muted, people stay inside, and it feels like you could be the only person in the world. Peaceful.

Alternatively, down at the ocean in a driftwood shelter I built and a small fire to reflect heat into the shelter. Very few people are around because that section of the beach just ends as the cliffs meet the ocean. It’s a dead end, therefore pedestrians stay on the non-dead end beaches so when they need their next fix they’re close to the various drug dens (aka coffee shops).


What do you like about reading? 

Louis L’Amour summed it up well.

“It is often said that one has but one life to live, but that is nonsense. For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time”.

 Reading transports you and stretches your mind to allow you to see through someone else’s eyes. Anecdotally speaking, after 15-30 minutes of speaking to someone I can tell if they’re big readers or not based on how they view the world around them. Are their statements and thoughts flexible, or are they rigid, black-and-white? I view non-readers who are strangers with suspicion, and friends who are non-readers with concern.


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

Not Dead Yet (Peter James).

Or The Autistic Brain (Temple Grandin).


In the mood for a fun western story? Check out Billy (The Kid) by Peter Meech and satisfy that craving!

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Pueblo, Colorado,1932. Bootleggers thrive in a town where the sheriff is on the take and you can kill a man with impunity. In this thrilling narrative, a once-famous outlaw finds himself thrust into the middle of a bootleg war against his will. At stake is nothing less than the life of his best friend and his last chance at true love with the town beauty. But is the legendary gunman who he claims to be, or is he just a retired dentist with a vivid imagination? Peter Meech reimagines the figure of Billy the Kid in a remarkable story told with verve, humor, grit and grace.

About the author: Peter Meech is an author, screenwriter, director and producer. He also mugs for the camera on occasion. His website is www.petermeech.com.



Thank you to our Patreon Supporters:

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I left my reading fate in my boyfriend’s hands and let him pick all the books I will be reading in June! Check out the video below:

Book Review: Encounter at Cloud Ranch

Our external reviewer has launched his own website!! You can find him over at This & That Books but luckily he is still doing some reviews for us on the side. This one was called The Legend of the Clouds: Encounter at Cloud Ranch by Robert James Connors.

clouds cover

Synopsis: When Jason Cloud finds a bizarrely-fanged skull and butchered cattle on his father’s Arizona ranch, it leads him into an encounter with a dangerous alien species. Spread at the foot of the spectacular cliffs of northern Arizona, the C9 Ranch is home to Jason, his widower father Tom, and two trusted hands, but Jason turns first to his university professor for help.

An enjoyable book for a couple of reasons. First, within a page or two there’s a mystery that needs unraveling. It draws you in. If you have not read the book preview then you won’t be sure where the story is leading, which is part of the appeal.

Secondly, the book takes place in northern Arizona (I had pegged it as south-west Utah based on the rock and plant descriptions so I was close). If you’ve ever been to those areas or watched westerns, you’ll find the scenic descriptions familiar. Connors’ descriptions make the place come to life. I had one of those slight shock moments when I looked up from the book and saw northern trees devoid of leaves instead of slick rock vistas that were in the book. It’s nice when a book is written well enough to pull you into its world so that you experience a slight dislocation when you look around. Incidentally, there’s a horse named Curly—which made me think of Curly from City Slickers (Billy Crystal, Jack Palance). The scenery descriptions in the book match the scenery of that movie.

The book is plot-driven rather than character driven. In that way it’s a bit like the short Louis L’Amour books where the lack of character development is compensated for by the plot, the characters as they are, and the dialogue. Connors does a good job of driving the plot and making likable characters, even the side characters.

There are a couple of love story interests that are predictable and seem a bit forced. For example, a healthy 30-something year old was found dead near his barn. It was never clear what killed him, they didn’t even know why he died (they’re not saying it was aliens, but … ). His death, though, did then allow his widow to become a love interest for another character. After the funeral, no-one ever wondered how he died even though near the end of the book answers might have been available.

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The second love interest had a forced quality to it as well. A professor had been to the ranch to investigate the bizarre cattle killings, and while on-site with her student their truck was sliced by something that could cut metal easily. Whatever it was had tracked them, showed it was intelligent and had essentially left a “go away” message. But the following winter she returned to the ranch with her kids because the creature hadn’t made itself known all summer. The strange intelligent beast could cut a cow clean in half and walk off with the meat; it could carve metal like it was toffee; it was smart and hostile. You would not be bringing your kids to a place where something so unnatural was living even if it hadn’t been seen for five years. However, both the love plot and the main plot required she and her kids be there.

Then there was an event that really has nothing to do with the plot even though there was an “I’ll be back to deal with you” type situation. That never happened, and the event was never mentioned again. Cut that section out of the book and it wouldn’t make the slightest difference to the story.

Those are more nit-picking things though. The book was a good read. It seems Connors was inspired by some of the petroglyph rock art that show tall alien-like creatures, such as petroglyphs found in Sego Canyon. I wish he’d developed that aspect of the story a bit further as the petroglyphs and rock art are rich in history and culture.

Overall, another good read that you can easily finish in an evening.

Book Rating: 4/5

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

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



Thank you to our Patreon Supporters:

Get your name/blog added to our blog posts and Youtube videos by supporting us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/breakevenbooks

Are any of you interested in Harry Potter? I did a tiered ranking of all the characters and would love to hear your thoughts on it! Check out the video below: