Book Spotlight: The Bird That Sang In Color

Congratulations to author Grace Mattioli on the release of her novel The Bird that Sang in Color!

Today I have an excerpt for you to read and a chance to win a copy of the book!

BirdColour 1The Bird that Sang in Color

Publication Date: January 17, 2021 (Today 🎉)

Genre: Literary Fiction

Part family drama and part self-actualization story, this is about Donna Greco, who in her teens, subscribes to a conventional view of success in life and pushes her freewheeling, artistic brother, Vincent to do the same. However, he remains single, childless, and subsists in cramped apartments. She harbors guilt for her supposed failure to ensure his happiness until she discovers a book of sketches he made of his life, which allows her to see his internal joy and prompts her own journey of living authentically.

Thought-provoking, humorous, and filled with unforgettable characters, this book invites readers to ponder what pictures they will have of themselves by the end of their lives.

“Beautifully rendered, hugely moving, brilliant,” Lidia Yucknavitch.

“a refreshing family portrait about interpersonal evolution…presented with affection, humor, and insight…an inspiring slice of life blend of philosophy, psychology, and transformation that draws readers into a warm story and examines the wellsprings of creative force and future legacies…evocative, uplifting,” Midwest Book Review.

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Excerpt

the golden garden bird of peace were the words painted on the wall in Vincent’s room. I thought Dad would have painted over them because he couldn’t stand all that “hippie crap.” Beside the words hung a bunch of paintings he made. He painted trees, mountains, rivers, flowers, and people with real-life expressions that made them more than just pictures. They were alive, and they told stories.

Some of his paintings were abstract, my favorite being one that looked like a kaleidoscope with no beginning and no end and colors that bounced off the canvas like a beautiful neon sign sparkling against a black sky. I could stare at it all day. I went between staring at it and the album cover before me—Let It Be by the Beatles. Vincent sat by the record player, dressed in his usual Levi’s, T-shirt, and Converse high-tops, bent towards the revolving album, listening intently, his head of black curly hair moving back and forth, his right foot tapping the hardwood floor, keeping rhythm to the Fab Four.

Finally, he turned his head away from the stereo and said to me, “I can’t believe this is it.” His face was serious and gloomy, and I didn’t know what he was talking about, but I pretended that I did because I’d never let my cool down around Vincent. It was because of him that I knew so much about rock and roll, which made me pretty sure that I was the coolest eighth-grade girl in the whole town and possibly in the whole state of New Jersey.

“I know,” I said seriously.

“I mean, I just never thought the Beatles would break up.” He shook his head with disappointment. 

“So, this is their last album, then?”

“Well, yeah,” he said, like I should have known better.

“Hey, check this out, Donna.” With the speed of a light switch flicking on, he turned into an entirely different person, no longer sad and gloomy but light and happy. He showed me a drawing he made of an old lady sitting on a chair with half of her body missing, and it looked as if the missing half was on the other side of an invisible door. She wore a mysterious smile as if she knew some extraordinary truth.

“Where’s the other half of her body?” I said.

“I don’t know,” he said, grinning. “You tell me.”

“Wow.” I sat there, trying to wrap my head around this while listening to the song playing. Just as I was about to figure something out about the picture, and just as I was really getting into the song, he took the needle off, turned the album over, and put the needle on the first song on the other side, a tendency he had that bothered the hell out of our brother, Carmen.

He scratched his head and looked up, his eyes penetrating the ceiling, deep in thought. He resembled Mom with his olive skin, Roman nose, and black curls, and was the only one of us who got her curly hair. The rest of us had straight hair. Mine was super long—to the bottom of my back—and I wore it parted in the middle and was certain that I was wearing it that way long before it was the style.

Vincent was also taller than the rest of us at over six feet. Dad said he took after his own dad in stature. I never knew Grandpa Tucci because he died before I was born, but I was told he was called Lanky because he was tall and skinny. I was pretty thin myself and had a bottomless pit. People would say that all my eating would catch up with me one day, but that never stopped me from eating ice cream every day after school. Breyers butter almond was my favorite.

Vincent listened to the music with pure attention, like there was nothing else in the world as George sang I, me, mine, I, me, mine, I, me, mine. He was probably trying to figure out what the song was about or how he could play it on his guitar. His acoustic guitar sat in the corner of his room. He had the smallest room in the house, but it seemed like the biggest because it was its own self-contained universe. I felt like I could be on the other side of the world without ever leaving his room.

His paintings and drawings covered the walls. A bunch of leather-bound cases of albums colored red and black and bone sat on the floor between a stereo and a wooden desk with piles of books and sketchbooks on top. Comic books, pens, and paintbrushes were scattered on the floor like seashells on the sand.

I shared a room with my younger sister, Nancy, and she insisted on having the room be as pink as possible. She was the youngest, so she always got her way. On top of making our room a sickening pink paradise, she had a doll collection with faces that really creeped me out, and she started pushing over my beloved books on our shelves to make room for her dolls. A doll named Lucinda with blond hair and a blue satin dress was shoved up against two of my favorites—Animal Farm and To Kill a Mockingbird.

“Check this out, Donna,” Vincent said, emerging from his music-listening trance. He took a skinny metal whistle out of a plastic case. “Got it at the music store in town.”

“Neat. Some kind of flute?” I said.

“A pennywhistle.” He had a big smile that stretched from one side of his face to the other. “Or sometimes called a tin whistle.”

“I wish I could play an instrument,” I said. “Just one.” I was the only one in our family that didn’t play an instrument. Mom wanted me to learn ballet instead because she said I had a dancer’s body. I liked it all right and stayed with it until my teacher put me on toe, and the wooden shoes imprisoned my feet and made them ache hours after class ended.

“Have it.”

“Really?!”

“Sure.” He started fishing in one of his desk drawers for something.

“Thanks Vincent.” No response. He just kept on with his searching. I looked at the tin instrument wondering how I’d learn to play it, when he poked his head up and gave me an instructional songbook for it. I went through it seeing musical notation for simple songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” It was all new territory for me, but I knew I could learn it and thought I could go anywhere from there. I saw myself playing with Vincent as he strummed the guitar, playing on the street for money, playing in a small orchestra of other penny whistlers. Just then, Mom called out from the kitchen.

“Dinner’s ready!” I didn’t care that my fantasy was interrupted because I was starving.  Vincent was always up for eating and was the biggest eater I knew. He seemed especially hungry because he was walking to the kitchen really fast. Even when he walked fast, he looked cool. He walked with a bounce in his step, his head bobbing back and forth like he was keeping beat to a song that only he could hear. I tried to walk like him once, but I ended up looking like some kind of uncoordinated monkey. I walked like Dad who moved fast and forward-leaning, like he was continually running late for something.  

The kitchen smelled of garlic and fish. It was Friday, and Mom always cooked fish on Fridays. A big flat bowl with hand-painted flowers was filled with spaghetti, calamari and gravy, which was what we called tomato sauce in our house. My older sister, Gloria was setting the large wooden table that sat in the center of the kitchen. She wore her hair tucked neatly behind her ears and a black-and-tan argyle vest that fit snug on her shapely body. Her face had the usual serious, troubled look on it like something was wrong. Anthony—the oldest in the family—was away at college, and Nancy was at a sleepover, so the table was set for only six.

Mom was at the sink, getting a salad together. Above the sink was a long window that looked out onto our backyard, its ledge covered with little ladybug statues, which Mom loved because they meant good luck. She wore a red-and-white apron over a straight skirt and boots and took long, swift strides around the kitchen. Watching her get dinner together was like watching a performance. She’d put on her apron instead of a costume. The music played: the chopping of vegetables, the clanging of metal spoons against pots and the sweet sound of pouring. She’d dance around, gathering ingredients, sautéing, stirring, occasionally turning towards us—the audience—to say something or laugh with us so that we’d feel a part of the show. She presented her perfect meals like works of art, displaying them on the table, and we’d applaud by eating—grabbing, twirling, chewing—until we couldn’t fit anymore in.

 Dad was opening up one of his bottles of homemade wine. I had a sip once, and it went down my throat like an angry snake. He leaned on the table like he needed it to support him with his eyes half-shut and his black-and-gray hair falling forward in his face. In his tiredness, he didn’t speak, but even when he was quiet, he was loud, and whenever he walked into a room, everybody knew it, even if he didn’t say a word. 

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About the Author

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Grace Mattioli is the author of two novels–Olive Branches Don’t Grow On Trees and Discovery of an Eagle, and a book of short stories, The Brightness Index. Her forthcoming novel, The Bird that Sang in Color, will be released January 17, 2021.

Her fiction is filled with unforgettable characters, artful prose, humor, and insight about what it takes to be truly happy.  She strongly believes that if people were happier, the world would be a better place.

She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and her cats. She worked as a librarian for over twenty years and has had various other job titles, including jewelry designer, food cart owner, shopkeeper, book seller, substitute teacher, art school model, natural grocery store clerk, short order cook, food server, street vendor, barista, and a giant Twinkie!

She has been writing creatively since she was a child and has participated in various writing workshops and classes. Her favorite book is Alice in Wonderland. Her favorite author is Flannery O’Connor. Her favorite line of literature comes from James Joyce’s novella, The Dead:  “Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.”

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To win a copy of The Bird that Sang in Color in your format of choice, click the link below!

Note: The giveaway will run from today until January 20th!

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I did the Wonder Book Tag! I was tagged by Enchanted Reader to do this book tag all about the songs from Shawn Mendes’ new album Wonder. Let me know what you think in the comments below! Check out the video below:

Book Review: Someone’s Story

I actually came upon this book when the author was referred to me by another booktuber, Connor Stompanato, which was so cool! This one was called Someone’s Story by B.A Bellec.

Synopsis: In his debut endearing coming-of-age book, B.A. Bellec writes about a group of weirdos that find and save each other from the dark depths of their minds. Someone’s Story is literally Someone’s story, as in a first-person narrative of a teenager that calls himself Someone. As he struggles to find a new footing in a new space, we encounter the many ups and downs of modern teenage life, the difficulties that adjusting to adult feelings bring, and a few tear-jerking surprises along the way.

This book was told in a way that you were trying to discover the main character’s back story while learning about his current story. The main character was called “Someone” and that was something I have not encountered in a book before. The plot was interesting enough because I wanted to know how this teenager was going to try and fit in after moving to a new town.

The book deals with some hard subjects such as mental illness and I think it was portrayed very well. There were definitely some twists that I wasn’t expecting so that added to the experience for me. The author also told me there is a soundtrack that goes with this book which is really cool.

If you want an easy to read coming of age story about a kid trying to fit in while dealing with some devils of his own, then I think you would enjoy this book.

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 the author to read and give an honest review.



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Here are the books I am most excited about that are coming out in 2021!! Let me know in the comments down below what your most anticipated books are! Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: Rejuvenation

To celebrate the release of the final instalment in Byddi Lee’s gripping Dystopian trilogy, we’re going back to where it all started in Rejuvenation! 

byddi-lee-rejuvenation-one-kindle-cover-400x600-1Rejuventation

Publication Date: March 23, 2020

Genre: Dystopian Sci-Fi

Publisher: Castrum Press

The Melter War has left the Earth’s surface devastated, leaving humanity to survive on what little land is left between the Scorch Zones and the rising oceans, where towering subscrapers dot the dystopian shore lines.

Bobbie Chan is a doctor caring for the ultra-elderly in one such subscraper when she notices a mysterious, new disease afflicting her patients; some show signs of age reversal before a catastrophic, and often fatal, cardiac arrest strikes.

Bobbie begins to wonder if she is witnessing a bio weapon in full force. A Melter attack? Are they destined to finish the war they started?

Bobbie begins a race against time to rescue the Rejuvenees and uncover their true enemy

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Purchase Rejuvenation or the Complete Trilogy Below!

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About the Author

ByddiLee2020

Byddi Lee grew up in Armagh and moved to Belfast to study at Queen’s University. She has since lived in South Africa, Canada, California and Paris before returning to live in her hometown, Armagh.

Her Rejuvenation Trilogy, is published by Castrum Press and Rejuvenation Book One,  Book Two and Book Three all available now. Book One is also out in audiobook.

Sign up to Byddi’s newletter for more details of release dates.

She has published flash fiction, short stories and, in 2014, her novel, March to November.  Byddi has also co-written the play IMPACT – Armagh’s Train Disaster with Malachi Kelly and Tim Hanna. IMPACT was directed by Margey Quinn and staged by the Armagh Theatre Group in the Abbey Lane Theatre June 2019.

During the COVID 19 pandemic when all theatres were closed, Byddi teamed up with Malachi and Tim to write Zoomeo & Juliet and Social Bubble Toil & Trouble suitable for live performance delivered through Zoom, produced by Margery Quinn and performed by the Armagh Theatre Group.

Byddi is a co-founder of the spoken word event Flash Fiction Armagh and is co-editor of The Bramley – An Anthology of Flash Fiction Armagh.

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I did the Meowing Bout Books Tag which is the companion book tag to my Barking Bout Books Tag! It was created by the Booktube Goddess and I am so happy that there is a kitty version of this tag! Let me know what some of your answers would be in the comments below! Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: The Big Tilt

Welcome to the blog tour for The Big Tilt, follow-up novel to gritty, noir detective story Mink Eyes by Dan Flanigan! Read on for more details and a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

The Big Tilt Front CoverThe Big Tilt (Peter O’Keefe Book #2) *Can be read as a standalone 

Genre: Thriller/ Noir/ Crime Fiction

Publication Date: October 27th, 2020

Publisher : Arjuna Books

The war in Vietnam didn’t kill Peter O’Keefe. Neither did his run-in with ruthless crime boss “Mr. Canada” in the Arizona desert. But chasing after justice in his own hometown just might.

A year after the private detective uncovered a criminal ring disguised as a mink farm in the Ozarks, O’Keefe is back home and back in trouble. A high school crush of O’Keefe’s turns up dead, but the details don’t add up. His pal, Mike Harrigan, has put his trust in the wrong people and now stands accused of crimes that could put him in the slammer. And O’Keefe? The mafia has put a price on his head.

In their search for the truth, O’Keefe and his team will have to venture into the criminal underworld of their city, each step forward bringing them closer to the edge. As trouble begins creeping closer to home, O’Keefe must decide if he’s willing to pay the cost of justice — before someone else makes the decision for him.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Author Pic

Dan Flanigan is a novelist, poet, and playwright, as well as a practicing lawyer. In his series of Peter O’Keefe private eye novels, Flanigan intends to tell us the story of our times from the 1980s to the present day. Book 1 of the series, Mink Eyes, is set in 1986 and explores the “greed is good” dynamic and the cultural tensions and gender complexities of that era. It is a modern hero’s quest in mystery-detective form. His newest novel and the second book in the Peter O’Keefe Series, The Big Tilt, is set one year later, 1987, with the nation is in the midst of the S&L crisis, which is threatening the financial underpinnings of the national economy. Meanwhile, in his private life O’Keefe is gulping water trying to keep his head above the waves and living out the old proverb “no good deed goes unpunished.” In addition to developing a screenplay version of Mink Eyes, he has published a book of verse and prose poetry, Tenebrae: A Memoir Of Love And Death, and Dewdrops, a collection of his shorter fiction. He has also written the full-length plays–Secrets (based on the life of Eleanor Marx) and Moondog’s Progress (based on the life of Alan Freed).

Over the years Dan has committed his time and energy to projects and organizations he is passionate about. He and his wife Candy established Sierra Tucson, a leading international addiction treatment center in Tucson, Arizona. Dan also serves on the Board of Directors of Childhood USA, a national nonprofit organization working to end child sexual abuse and exploitation.

He divides his time among Kansas City, New York City, and Los Angeles.

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Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

I did the Meowing Bout Books Tag which is the companion book tag to my Barking Bout Books Tag! It was created by the Booktube Goddess and I am so happy that there is a kitty version of this tag! Let me know what some of your answers would be in the comments below! Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel

We are thrilled to share this amazing new novel by K.T. Rose! The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel just proves that ghost stories are perfect any time of the year! 

Read on for an exclusive peek and an amazing giveaway to enter! 

TheHauntingofGallagherHotel

The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel

Publication Date: November 5th, 2020

Genre: Supernatural Horror/ Paranormal

Pride and greed infect the soul, anchoring the dead to Gallagher Hotel.

When Chris, a master thief, and Riley, a contract waitress, get mysterious invites to an exclusive party at the haunted Gallagher Hotel, they discover that there is more at play than simple celebrations.

Hidden truths are revealed, and all hell breaks loose. But the “party” has just begun.

Now, Chris and Riley face their demons as they fight to survive a hellish nightmare full of spoiled secrets, carnage, and vengeful spirits lost to the hotel dating back to the turn of the 20th century.

Will they survive the night? Or will their souls be devoured by the most haunted building in Michigan?

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Chapter One

She’ll never forget the day she died.

Torches lit up the town square, illuminating scowling and shouting faces. The townspeople launched stones and spit, pegging Trudy’s arms and face as she trudged through the abhorrent mob. She cringed when a pebble struck her cheek. Pain erupted, shooting through her face like lightning striking the earth.  

Deputy Hill yanked her arm, leading her through the narrow path the townspeople created. Fists balled, Trudy groaned as the rope around her wrists dug into her skin. Her bare feet picked up glass shards and debris from the cobblestone path as she shuffled along.  

She glared around at the angry faces and recognized the men, women, and children of Holloway. She’d done more for them than any God before her. Many of those people owned the very businesses that lined the stone slab she marched across that night. Building and financing the rows of wooden businesses lining the town’s square accounted for half the things she’d done for Holloway. She fed the hungry, made clothes for cold children, and taught woman’s independence. The ever-growing list of the townspeople’s wants was endless. At one point, she didn’t mind the busy work. Fulfilling dreams of the once poor town kept her boisterous and distracted from her bitter reality. Trudy was Holloway’s personal shepherd, making the people her needy sheep.  

Hands snagged at her lavender tea gown, adding dirty prints to the blood drops and grime from the beatings in that putrid cell. She glared at the bare-faced man towering over her. The brim of his deputy hat cast a thick shadow, hiding his dark eyes and pale face.  

Deputy would miss her. She was sure of it. He got off on the assaults that bruised her face. His heavy fists pounded her bones and scraped her skin until she confessed. And even after her confession, he continued with his evening visits, slamming her body into cinder block walls and passing off open-handed blows to her nose, cheeks, and eyes.  

Trudy sighed. A bath with lavender and Epsom salt sounded good for the swelling. She didn’t realize how bloated and purple her once beautiful, fairly smooth skin had become until she passed by the picture window in front of the town’s jail just before they began her walk of shame. Her dark hair matted to her forehead, washed by sweat and blood. Her plump lips were chapped and bloated with bruises.  

Even then, her face pulsed with intense hurt. Pain shot through it whenever she winced. 

The sea of convictions roared, growing louder as she drew closer to the opposite end of the square.  

“Adulterer,” yelled a woman. 

“Traitor,” screeched a boy. 

“Murderer,” said a pot-bellied man. 

Their accusations sent a sickening jolt through her bones. She watched the path underneath her slowing feet, fighting back the tears. 

How could they turn on me like this? 

Available on Amazon!

About the Author

PORTRAIT2 white frame

K.T. Rose is a horror, thriller, and dark fiction writer from Detroit, Michigan. She posts suspense and horror flash fiction on her blog at kyrobooks.com and is the author of a suspenseful short story series titled Trinity of Horror, an erotic thriller novel titled When We Swing, and A Dark Web Horror Series. She also writes supernatural and paranormal horror novels and short stories. 

Kyro Books | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest

 

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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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

I did the Meowing Bout Books Tag which is the companion book tag to my Barking Bout Books Tag! It was created by the Booktube Goddess and I am so happy that there is a kitty version of this tag! Let me know what some of your answers would be in the comments below! Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: The Toolbox

This week we’re celebrating the Fall release of Yvette Whittington’s debut novel, The Tool Box. Read on for details!

Cover Yvette Book Cover2cshortThe Tool Box

Publication Date: September 27th, 2020

Genre: Womens’ Fiction

Publisher: Rope Swing Press

A letter from her father… Inside her father’s old weathered barn, Eve and her siblings find an old tarnished tool box that sits waiting for them as their father languishes in the hospital. To most, the items in the box would be considered insignificant junk, but to Eve they held priceless insight into not only the man her father was, but also the woman she was about to become. From a very delicate relationship with her mom as a teenager, to being forced to live with her father in a town she never felt at home in, Eve learned to grow and live. When adversity hits through both tragedy and disappointment Eve soon finds the strength to push to survive. With the help of the items in the toolbox, Eve is beset with uncovering the treasures it holds…ones that propel her on a journey of self-discovery and revelations.

Available on Amazon!

About the Author

rope-swing-reads-yvette-whittington-profile1a_orig

Yvette lives in a small, quiet town nestled in Southwest Louisiana with her husband, Lee.  They have both worked for the same company for almost twenty years. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, working on handmade crafts, and of course writing. Her mother also loves to writes and she attributes her love for it to her.

Diagnosed with Bi-polar one disorder in late 2010, Yvette started her journey of self-discovery and wellness, learning that medicine would only take her only so far and that she had to do the rest. She now considers herself to be living her dream, writing. This, The Toolbox, is her first novel, but not her last. She is excited to share her world with you.

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I had a great reading month in November and here are all the books I read! Let me know in the comments if you have read these books and what you thought of them! And thanks to Markus for picking out a stellar TBR for me. Check out the video below:

Book Review: The Rose Society

I just started reading The Midnight Star for the Reindeer Readathon and then realized that I never wrote a review for The Rose Society so here we go!

Synopsis: Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she flees Kenettra with her sister to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good when her very existence depends on darkness?

I thought this book was so flipping good! The build up of anticipation from the beginning to the end was incredible and the book’s plot was well thought out.

Of course I was super excited to dive back into this series with my favorite morally grey character, Adelina. She really makes the book interesting because you never know what she is going to do or how she will react to certain situations.

The introduction of new powers was intriguing and the formation/bond of new allies and enemies kept me invested. It was really cool to see that sometimes in order to master control, you need to lose control.

This world is built to reflect a renaissance style era (or at least that is how I picture it) and the setting is done so well that it is very vivid in my mind. I’m happy to be moving on to the final book in the trilogy to see how it all concludes and I am ready for some more intense political intrigue and battles of grand magnitude!

Book Rating: 5/5

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

Disclaimer: I read this book because I wanted to and was in no way compensated for my 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 had a great reading month in November and here are all the books I read! Let me know in the comments if you have read these books and what you thought of them! And thanks to Markus for picking out a stellar TBR for me. Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: Portrait of a Man

We’re celebrating the release of Vicky Adin’s latest historical fiction, Portrait of a Man! Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a print copy of the book!

518bD0tN5FLPortrait of a Man

Publication Date: October 23rd, 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction

Will the secrets of the past destroy an artist’s legacy?

Matteo Borgoni is a desperate man. He must succeed if he is to free his beloved wife, held captive by her father in Melbourne. His picture framing skills establish him with the artists of Dunedin in 1863, but he has many doubts, and many more obstacles to overcome.

Fifty years on, Luciano, a rakish Italian portrait artist on the run from his past, turns up at the Invercargill branch of Borgoni Picture Framers seeking refuge. As the ravages of World War One escalate, fear is constant, but compassion brings unexpected consequences. A terrifying pandemic is the last thing they need.

Over a century later, a man recognises a portrait in an Auckland gallery, and demands it back. Amid another global pandemic, a marriage on the brink of failure, and a life and death struggle, the portrait exposes generations of family secrets and deceptions with life-changing results.

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Excerpt

January 1863

The Arrival

Matteo Borgoni walked off the ship like a man reprieved. He closed his eyes and inhaled the early morning air, detecting the usual animal dung and the grease and tar of a busy harbour, but also something fresher, more life- giving. Seagulls squawked overhead, searching for tiny fish among the seaweed rippling against the wharf piles for their breakfast. “This,” he sighed with a lighter heart than he’d had in a long time, “this is where life begins again.”

At first glance, Port Chalmers was more makeshift and primitive than he’d expected after Melbourne. Wooden buildings stood haphazardly along the main street and scattered over the hillside. The port hummed with activity, which pleased him. A busy port was good for business, but he hoped the city of Dunedin – some eight miles south-west – would be more prosperous. He heaved his bag onto his shoulder and, dodging horses, carts, trolleys and people laden with goods and baggage, he followed the steady stream moving along the wharf to where the authorities were waiting.

He’d seen the likes of many of his fellow passengers before. Poor miners and prospectors coming from the gold rushes of Victoria hoping for better luck. Most would move on again, empty-handed and defeated. A few had families, dragging them from one rough-and- ready tent town to another in the hope of striking the big one. He’d met a handful of Italians among them. Crazy people, in his opinion.

A voice from behind announced the presence of a toffee-nosed Englishman.

“This way, my dears, follow me.” He pushed his way forward as he escorted his wife and daughters to wherever they were going. “Make way, I say. Make way for the ladies. Coming through.”

Eventually, the queue moved along, and Matteo’s turn came.

“Name!” barked the official, who ticked him off the passenger list and waved him on.

At thirty-five, Matteo had seen a lot of living. He was barely twenty-one when he left his home near Lake Garda in Northern Italy – a tiny hamlet surrounded by snow-capped mountains in the Dolomites, where life was measured from one festival to another filling the square with customs and chatter. On the odd occasion, he’d returned when money allowed. When he didn’t have the funds, he wrote to his sister, Gabriella, who understood him; understood why he needed to leave the traditions and shackles of the small village behind and find a new life; why he had no freedom in their tiny three-storey brick home living the peasant lifestyle. His dreams were too ambitious to be confined.

As he walked towards the village, the sun pleasantly warm on his back, he let his dreams fly free again.

“Hey, Matteo,” a fellow Italian called in heavily accented English. “You come?”

“Si, I come.”

Over the years living in Melbourne, Matteo had learnt to speak English. Now it was his everyday language, even with other Italians. There were too many regional differences to speak his mother tongue to passing strangers.

The younger man clapped him on the back and together they made their way along the dirt road. Trees covered the hillside, and the lush, green countryside appealed to Matteo.

He’d arranged for his packing crates to be transferred directly to Dunedin, but the new paddle steamer, designed for the shallow waters of Otago Harbour, wouldn’t be leaving for a while yet – and he needed a drink.

“Let’s go.”

With a beer in hand, they sat in a crowded barroom of the Royal Hotel, taking in their new surroundings.

“So, tell me, what brings you here?” asked Stefano, his accent far stronger than Matteo’s.

“A new adventure.” Matteo shrugged away thoughts of his past failures.

“Gold. You look for gold. I go look.” The young man’s eyes gleamed at the thought of making his fortune, as many others had yearned to do in the goldfields of Australia and New Zealand.

“No, I’m a businessman; a craftsman. I set up shop here.”

Matteo had soon learnt that life was a case of ‘each man for himself’ when the madness of gold took hold. He’d seen too many fools work themselves to death for a few ounces of the shiny metal hidden in veins in the rock, and had far bigger plans than living the filthy, harsh life of a miner.

“What, no gold? Then why you leave if you have business?”

“Leave where? Home, or Melbourne?” He didn’t want to talk about why he’d left Melbourne. No one here needed to know.

Stefano pulled a face. “I think I know why you left home. My papa say things not the same since Risorgimento. Si? Unification. Phht! He asks how can the north be like the south when our food and our words are different? People fight to keep what is theirs of right; they don’t want change. They don’t need one nation. They want to be Trentino men like you, or Tuscan like me. Friends, but not the same.”

“Si, infatti,” Matteo agreed, wondering how much Stefano had experienced first-hand, given his youth, and how much was his father’s opinion. Nothing was as simple as he made it out to be. “I left during the ’48 revolution – it was that, or fight, and I did not want to fight. Detesto politica. Generation after generation, many revolutions. One side say this; the other that. I don’t want to know.” But if what his cousin Alessandro had written was true, there was much infighting and disagreement still going on. “But it is better to be one people – Italian people – than be ruled by foreigners, si?” He sipped his beer and curled his lip at the bitter taste.

The men continued to chat about the strife still going on at home as the states fought to become a kingdom, or not – depending on which reports came from where – resolving nothing, and agreeing life was better away from it all.

 “Which way you go to Dunedin?” asked Stefano. “By paddle steamer, why?”
“I’m told there’s a new road now, over the hills.” “So I heard, but by all accounts it’s no more than

a bridle path and not suitable for wagons. And I need to transport some goods – belongings I brought from Melbourne. Do you have a horse?”

Stefano shook his head. “No. I use all my money on the ship here and on a licence and tools for mining. I walk.”

“There are many seagoing craft between here and Dunedin; perhaps you could work your way …” Matteo paused before he came to a decision. “But come with me. I could do with some company on our first night. I buy a ticket.”

“Truly? You let me travel with you?”

Matteo nodded, glad to have someone to talk to for a while until he got settled.

They ordered some food and more beer while they waited for the ship’s whistle to alert them to its departure. Within the hour, they were boarding The Golden Age.

“A good omen for me, si?” laughed Stefano on seeing the name.

“Maybe it is,” agreed Matteo as they made their way up the gangplank.

“Welcome aboard this magnificent vessel during her first week of operation in this wonderful harbour,” said the captain. “It is my pleasure to transport you to Dunedin, and I personally guarantee your safety.”

Matteo leant against the rail admiring the new paintwork and studying the intricate construction of the paddle wheels and saloon facilities.

“I hope he’s right,” he said to Stefano in a soft voice. “From what I hear, all is not well. They left one of their owners behind. He was supposed to captain it on its maiden voyage over here. And then they struck a big storm and the ship was damaged.” Matteo wondered how unusual a rough crossing was, given his own less- than-comfortable passage. “They left the cook behind, too. Locked up, they say, for stealing the engineer’s watch. Not a good start.”

“How you know all this?”

Matteo lifted his shoulder. “I ask questions.” He looked around to make sure no one could overhear him. “I heard another story. About a Signor Alexander Leys, the engineer, who disappeared overboard a few days ago. I wonder how the captain can say everyone is safe when he lose someone.”

“Incredible!” said Stefano, agog at Matteo’s words.

“Not so much. Pays to be careful, that’s all,” said Matteo in warning. “But I’ve got better things to worry about. First task, find good vino – if such a thing is possible. I cannot survive on that beer.”

Available on Amazon!

About the Author

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Award winning historical fiction author, Vicky Adin is a genealogist in love with history and words.

After decades of research Vicky has combined her skills to write poignant novels that weave family and history together in a way that makes the past come alive.

Fascinated by the 19th Century women who undertook hazardous journeys to find a better life, Vicky draws her characters from real life stories – characters such as Brigid The Girl from County Clare and Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner, or Megan who discovers much about herself when she traces her family tree in The Cornish Knot.

Her 2019 release, The Costumier’s Gift, is the dual-timeline sequel to the family sagas of Brigid The Girl from County Clare and Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner.

In 2020, Vicky released Portrait of a Man, the soul-searching and heart-warming conclusion to The Cornish Knot.

Vicky Adin holds a MA(Hons) in English and Education. When not writing you will find her reading – she is an avid reader of historical novels, family sagas and contemporary women’s stories; travelling – especially caravanning, and cruising with her husband and biggest fan; and spending time with her family.

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Book Spotlight: Anger is an Acid

Welcome to the final book tour for The Patience of a Deadman trilogy, by Michael Clark. Anger is Acid is the bone-chilling conclusion, and today I have an excerpt for you and a giveaway to enter!

Anger is Acid

Anger is Acid (The Patience of a Dead Man #3)

Publication Date: May 4, 2020

Genre: Horror/ Ghost Story

Mildred has control… Tim and Holly, realizing they are helpless, are grateful when a stranger knocks on their door – but can he help? Andrew Vaughn, a haunted man, is on-scene, hoping to lend a hand – against his will. Meanwhile, the “ghost story” is becoming national news and attracting attention that Tim can’t afford.

Holly can’t stay in the house any more and draws a line. Confidence is low, and pressure builds. Meanwhile, Mildred listens to almost everything they say. Is there any way around her anger? Or will they die in vain, as they desperately search for Tim’s daughters?

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Excerpt

With the doors locked, Tim and Holly exchanged concerns.

“Yes, I know it was her. I’m sure she has the girls too. You don’t have to tell me, Holly. I’m scared shitless. They could be…” He couldn’t bring himself to finish the sentence.

“Well, we can’t think that way yet. She left Sheila’s body behind. She would have left theirs too. I think they’re alive.” Holly had other fears, but she didn’t finish her thoughts out loud.

“How the hell did she know where they live? Amesbury is seventy miles from here!” Holly felt a chill climb her back as he finished his sentence.

“She seems to come and go from this house as she pleases, Tim. She knows this place as well as if not better than we do. I’ve told you a hundred times–I hate staying here!Please, let’s go to my place. Even if she knows where I live, I’ll feel a little better. At least I don’t think she’s ever been there, but this place…she could be anywhere. I don’t even want to think about it.”

“I can’t leave, Holly. As backward as it may sound, I need to see her. I’m afraid I’ll never see her again! Imagine that? And don’t forget that Thomas Pike had no problem finding your place when he dropped off the Simmons scrapbook. Remember?” Holly nodded, unhappy that Tim had a point.

“Oh, you’ll see her again, Tim. You can bet on that. At least once anyway. It won’t be a sneak attack either. She wants you to know she’s coming and probably wants you to die long and slow. She wants revenge. That’s what revenants do, remember? We just never thought that she’d go for the girls. And that–changes everything.” Holly’s sigh was heavy with dread as she stared blankly at the wall, defeated. There was an unintentional moment of silence.

“How the hell does she get in here?” Tim finally wondered aloud, rousing them both from their separate thoughts. “Does she have a fucking key or something? Secret entrance? The roof?”

“The turret. It’s got to be the turret.” Holly suddenly seemed extra awake and even afraid. She subconsciously looked up at the ceiling where the turret would be. The stairway to it was only two rooms away. They both rose to investigate, flicking the dining room light on along the way. Tim listened outside the door for a moment, then fetched his baseball bat from the kitchen before opening it. 

They climbed the stairs slowly. Holly was relieved to find the turret was empty, but it left Tim with a lack of answers and a growing level of frustration. Mildred had decided to let them worry and wonder about the girls for at least an evening–the very first evening of their captivity. Was it by design, meant to heighten the anguish? Or was she busy looking for a place to hole them up?

The girls were trapped with the dead woman and most likely terrified. Tim wished he could trade places with them–they were too young for such terror. Tim rested the bat against the wall and tried the windows. There were eight of them ringing the octagonal room, and much to Tim’s surprise, one of them was unlocked.

“What the hell! I locked these– I’m sure I locked them.”

“Yes, but you don’t check them every night, Tim. All she had to do is get in here once during the day to get up here and unlock it. And look, your papers are all sitting right there.” Holly motioned to Tim’s box in the corner. “That’s how she knew where Sheila lived. Now we know–and it creeps me out—I can’t tell you how much.” Tim saw where the conversation was headed and changed the subject.

“I need to boobytrap this place. Get her right here in this room, and then set a trap, like a bear trap or…”

“You don’t think she’ll see a bear trap in the middle of the floor? That’s just going to piss her off, Tim. And you’re liable to hurt yourself with the damn thing. Same with knives or fire or whatever else you’re thinking.” Holly’s stress did all the talking.

“I wasn’t thinking about knives or fire, come on, give me a little bit of credit.” Tim lied about the knives. “I was thinking something along the lines of a warning system. Something to make her fall down the stairs. A bag of marbles—I don’t fucking know…” Holly giggled, then the giggle turned into laughter. Tim saw that she genuinely thought it was funny and was not making fun of him, so he joined in for a moment–yet the gravity of their problem hung in the room like a cloud of poison dust.

“How about a simple tripwire with a little bell on it?” Holly offered. “One at the bottom of the turret stairs, one in front of the sliding glass door in the breakfast area and one at the bottom of the bedroom stairs? We set it up every night. In the morning, unhook it, so we’re not tripping over it ourselves.” Tim looked up at her.

“That’s an idea. Better than we have now. And like you said—‘we’re gonna see her again.’ We have to. Oh God, I hope and pray she’s greedy and wants to see me again. But–” Tim got quiet and put his balled fist under his nose. Holly saw he was getting emotional.

“Honey, we’re doing all we can, let’s just–”   

“But if she’s already done—if this is her revenge—and she’s never coming back, then she’s really good at it.” Tim’s last three words were nearly inaudible as he choked up, worried sick about his daughters. Holly hugged him, trying to hold back tears of her own.

Available on Amazon!

The Patience of a Dead Man KINDLE Book One CoverThe Patience of a Dead Man

He just spent everything on a house in disrepair, but he didn’t know someone was waiting inside.

Tim Russell just put his last dollar on a handyman’s dream; a quaint but dilapidated farmhouse in New Hampshire. Newly single after a messy divorce, his plan is to live in the house as he restores it for resale. To his horror, as soon as the papers are signed and his work starts, ghosts begin to appear. A bone-white little boy. A woman covered in flies. Tim can’t afford to leave and lose it all, so he turns to his real estate agent Holly Burns to help him decide whether he has any shot at solving his haunted problem. Can they solve the mystery before he loses his investment…or maybe his life?

Featured Image -- 7665Dead Woman Scorned (The Patience of a Dead Man #2)

She’s back, and they’ll regret what they’ve done.

Mildred Wells had a miserable life that carried over to a lonesome death. In the end, they betrayed her – played her the fool. She was the last to know, but there’s still time to catch up. She’ll formulate her painful plan as they live their lives in blissful ignorance.

With no more family, only vengeance drives her; in fact, it’s all she has. She would have rather rested in peace, but for Mildred, dying isn’t so easy.

About the Author

MikeClark-55-small

Michael Clark was raised in New Hampshire and lived in the house The Patience of a Dead Man is based. The bats really circled the rafters of the barn all day long, and there really was a grove hidden in the forest. He now lives in Massachusetts with his wife Josi and his dog Bubba.

The Patience of a Dead ManDead Woman Scorned Anger is an Acid are his first three novels.

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Giveaway: The Patience of a Dead Man Trilogy (Print) US only or a print copy of book #1, Patience of a Dead
Man for International entries.

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November 30th

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Thank you so much to Culture Carton who sent me a complimentary subscription box to do an unboxing on my channel! It has a lot of cool stuff in it! Let me know in the comments what your favorite item was! Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: Birth of the Fae

I am so excited to share this book with you all today! Birth of the Fae: Locked Out of Heaven by Danielle M. Orsino is now available in paperback! Check out this gorgeous book and make sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win some amazing prizes!

BirthoftheFae-front

The Birth of the Fae: Locked Out of Heaven (Vol. 1)

Publication Date: June 19th 2020

Genre: Epic Fantasy/ Adventure

Ride on the backs of fire breathing dragons with the Dark Fae and watch the Light Fae play in the shadows of primitive humanity as they build their magical world. Abandoned by their creator, two factions of powerful angels remain on earth after the Great War with Lucifer. They struggle to comprehend their Creator’s plan while their angel wings, a symbol of their angelic lineage, slowly and painfully decay. With no hope of returning to the Shining Kingdom, two groups of angels denounce their angelic lineage and develop into separate factions – the Court of Light, led by Queen Aurora, a former Virtue Angel, and the Court of Dark, ruled by King Jarvok, a former Power Brigade Angel. The two monarchs have opposing views on how to govern their kin, but the one belief they agree on is that human worship equals power.

Birth of the Fae: Locked Out of Heaven is an epic fantasy adventure of heartbreak, rebirth, and hope that examines the bonds of family, friendship, and love.  It is a fantastic tale of good vs evil in a beautiful world, where the Light Fae and their potent elemental magick are tested by the raw power of the dragon riding Dark Fae warriors.

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The Veil - Final (1)

Chapter Twenty-Six: “Worship Equals Power”

“To be a creature of chaos is to be used by the energy of disorder, to be a tool of it. You are allowing confusion to lead you. I want more for us. We will take control of the pandemonium. Those who control chaos control their destiny. Do not let it lead you like a pet on a leash.”

King Jarvok turned and walked to the window, hands behind his back. “Now go, and Chaos be with you, Zion.” Zion smirked. His blue eyes glowed with comprehension as his shoulders pulled back. “No, my liege. Chaos be with us.” He turned and ran with a renewed vigor for his mission.

Jarvok curled his lip for a moment as he gazed out the window at Zion’s enthusiasm, but his stoic expression returned. He waited for the bang of the heavy doors to exhale. His shoulders slumped as the weight of his rule took him under. He leaned his hands on the window, the magma crumbling and sliding from his palms as the pressure caused small fissures to appear in the sill. His head hung low, his hair falling to his face as he raised his honey eyes looking out over the training yard. They would need to train every day and even do night formations. No rest.

The scent of cedar and sage wafted up from the bonfires below. He knew his plan to attack was sound but his timeline was of concern. If Aurora continued to gather and unify her human worshippers, she could have the magick to overtake his kin and force them into serving the Virtues as their army. The thought of his kin living a life of servitude caused Jarvok to force the acid back down his throat. No, he would not risk anyone gaining the upper hand over him. He had hidden his kin in his Veil, established them as gods to the humans, and formed an alliance with the Draconians. He would not force the Draconians to fight alongside him against Aurora but if they chose to stand with him he would accept their help.

He had been strategic in observing her, watching and waiting. She was a naive, idealistic, egotistical ruler with no battle experience. An almost certain victory. By making an example out of Aded, the humans would fear his kin and as Jarvok had learned, it was better to be feared than loved. One just needed to ask his Creator.

Available at Barnes & Noble & on Amazon!

About the Author

fin for web

Danielle M Orsino, destined to be a writer from a young age, was working as a nurse and treating a patient who needed some distractions during long I.V. Treatment sessions. So, Orsino reached back to a forgotten skill, A childhood dream. Danielle had wanted to be a writer and so she decided to tell a story. Little did she know the seed would grow into a fantastically epic adventure of heartbreak, hope and rebirth — Birth of Fae: Locked Out of Heaven. Drawing from her passion for comic books, Cosplay and fantasy along with her expert martial arts expertise, Orsino brings forth an electric and hopeful debut.

Danielle is taking on her biggest challenge to date: taking the story born from the long treatment sessions with a patient into a fantasy book series-Birth of the Fae: Locked out of Heaven. Expanding her love of writing, comics and exploring the world of fantasy novels, she delves into the realm of fairies and retells their origins from a completely new perspective. Orsino has a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Exercise science and is an LPN with a special interest in Lyme disease research. Orsino has been widely recognized from her influence and experience in martial arts realm, training for over 20 years and with over 500 tournament wins, and accumulating national and world titles. She has performed for former President of the United States Bill Clinton and has been featured on “Soap Talk, Fox Five news CBS, TLC and E! With this experience, she worked as a Fight Choreographer on ”Wonder Woman: Balance of Power” and has worked with the likes of martial arts legend Vincent Lyn and WWE marvel and action star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Nothing Danielle ever does is simple, look at what NY times Bestselling author Clete Barrett Smith has to say about her debut endeavor: “After summoning this world into existence through an imaginative force of will, Danielle has scoured every inch of the landscape several times over. Critics often praise a story’s world building by saying that it feels “lived in.” Well, the world of the Fae certainly seems like that because Danielle herself has happily lived there for years as she worked to put all of this together…My favorite part of this story is that it is gloriously depicted in vibrant images.

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1st place: 1 book (autographed) 1 map of the veil, $10 Amazon gift card and one birth of the Fae candle 

2nd place: 1 autographed book and candle

3rd place 1 autographed book

Please click the link below to enter! Giveaway will be running from now until December and is open to everyone!

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Book Tour Schedule

November 30th

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

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

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

@Better_Off_Read (Review) http://WWW.INSTAGRAM.COM/BETTER_0FF_READ/

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

Josh Whitworth (Review) https://joshwhitworth.com/`

December 1st

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

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

@love2dazzle (Review) https://www.instagram.com/love2dazzle/

Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com

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

December 2nd

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

Ity Reads Books (Review) www.ityreadsbooks.com

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

@DreaminginPages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/dreaminginpages/

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

Ma Book Yard (Review) https://www.mabookyard.wordpress.com

December 3rd

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

MyBookishLifeTime (Review) https://bookishlifetime.wordpress.com/

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

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

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

Book Tour Organized By:

R&R Button




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It’s time to show off my last TBR for the year 2020! And it’s My TBR for the Reindeer Readathon so its even more exciting! Let me know if you are taking part in the Readathon and what you are reading down below! Check out the video below: