Lauren Carr’s Audiobook-a-palooza Blog Tour!

 

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Meet the Author:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband and three dogs (including the real Gnarly’s klutzy nephew Sterling) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with LaurenWebsite  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Guest Post: Characters in Fur Coats

By Lauren Carr

Anyone who has read even one of my murder mysteries learns one thing instantly about me—I love animals. That’s love with a capital “L”. I can’t help it. I was raised on a farm surrounded by dogs, cats, cattle, horses, rabbits. When I moved out on my own, it was a given that I would have a cat or dog. I didn’t care which. If it has fur, feathers, paws or claws, I’m all over it.

So, when I started writing books, I naturally had to include furry characters. Now, if you haven’t read one of my mysteries, then don’t assume that I have animal detectives. No, my fur-covered characters are more realistic. They don’t talk or even do detective work. But, they are still characters who interact with the humans enough to be worthy of being listed in my cast of characters at the front of the book.

Let me illustrate.

Yesterday, we took Storm, our female German shepherd, to the vet for a check up. I was concerned that she has been looking more pudgy than she should. Now Storm (aka Sweetheart) is the sweetest, gentlest darling-est canine you would ever want to meet. But she gets very nervous when she goes for a ride in the car and my husband went along to hold her paw. When the vet came into the office, Storm squeezed in behind Jack’s knees. The vet had to get down on her hands and knees to examine her. As she was putting the stethoscope to Storm’s ribs, she turned to me and said, “You’re right. She is overweight.”

Suddenly, Storm’s eyes bulged and she lunged for the vet–barking and snarling. The vet jumped up to her feet and backed away. Jack held her back saying, “It’s okay, Storm. You look good.”

As the vet was backing out of the office, she apologized and said she should have been more sensitive. “Most women react that way when they’re told they’re overweight.”

Storm prefers to think of herself as “voluptuous.”

Now, any dog expert will immediately declare that Storm was not reacting to the vet’s comment as much as she attacked out of fear when the vet got too close. However, the imaginative writer in me, and my husband and vet as well, saw the pure humor in Storm’s timing to become violently offended at the vet’s comment about her full figure.

As a writer, I am constantly watching and studying people in my search for interesting characters. Often, one or two traits in a real-life individual will serve as a jumping off point to make for a wildly memorable character. I can honestly say that this is abundantly true with my fur-covered characters as well.

The famous Gnarly (Or should I say infamous?) is based on Ziggy, an Australian shepherd, that my son acquired as a puppy at a football game. I had had dogs all my life, but never did I have a dog who was as mischievous and smart as this one—until years later when I adopted a German shepherd puppy who I had named Gnarly after my fictional character. Ziggy was so troublesome that I had him analyzed by an animal behavioral expert who said that the pup was so intelligent that he was easily bored. Therefore, he looked for trouble to amuse himself.

Thus, Mac Faraday’s Gnarly was born!

Cat owners, have you ever met a one-person cat? Irving, the black and white Maine Coon who is identical to a skunk in my Lovers and Crime mystery series, is based on Duchess. Unlike Irving, Duchess’s markings were the reverse of a skunk. She was white with a black stripe down her back.

But, like Irving, Duchess was a one-woman cat. She was intensely jealous of my husband when he stole me away from her. One evening, I had spent a whole evening making a romantic dinner—chateaubriand for two for my new husband. We had candlelight, fire in the fireplace, champagne, the works. In our small first apartment, the dining area was in a great room, with the table set up next to the back of the sofa.

We had just started to eat when Duchess jumped up onto the back of the sofa and made her way down the whole length of it to where Jack was sitting. We couldn’t help but notice her because she slithered toward him with such a sense of purpose.

“Look at that,” Jack said as she moved up to his shoulder.

Looking right at Jack, Duchess moved in closer and then shot a giant hairball straight at his plate. Two points as the hairball landed right on top of the chateaubriand!

Jack and I screamed. Duchess flew off the sofa and disappeared for a very long time. No one missed the fact that she had deposited that hairball in Jack’s plate to send a message meant only for him—the homewrecker who had stolen her human.

It was that incident that inspired Irving, Cameron Gate’s one woman cat, who views her husband Joshua Thornton as competition for her affection. Recently, I decided to give Irving a break by giving him another human to attach himself to in Izzy, the Thornton’s adopted daughter.

I can’t resist using animal character because they are characters.

In Three Days to Forever and the Thorny Rose Mysteries, readers met Spencer is Jessica’s sheltie, a blue merle (her fur is bluish in color and she has blue eyes). Admittedly, Spencer is not very bright, but she is as adorable as can be. Murphy calls her Candi and she answers to that. The inspiration for this was my own family. My husband always renames our pets, who will then answer to anything.

Then, we have Newman. He is The Man in the Thorny Rose mysteries! Newman is based on our beagle, Beagle Bailey. A number of readers have told me about their canine couch potatoes. Newman has his chair, which no one is allowed to sit in, a television remote which he slaps with his paw to change channels, and he refuses to go for walks.

In a nutshell, Newman is the dog who doesn’t do anything—just like some people I know.

Some may arch an eyebrow at the notion of pets ranking high enough to be an actual character in a book. Those people, I must assume have never actually had a pet. Anyone who has welcomed an animal into their family knows that pets possess full blown personalities and even quirks just like humans.

Where does all these furry characters end? I really don’t know. Recently, I’ve been interviewing a horse in Texas who would like a role in the Mac Faraday Mysteries …

Meet the Narrators:

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Dan Lawson
Over the past several years Dan Lawson has appeared in numerous spots for radio, television and the internet. He has worked with All-State, Sprint PCS, Mountain Dew and many more. His unique ability to mimic existing characters and celebrities has landed him diverse voice match work ranging from Charlie Sheen to Morgan Freeman.In 2008 Dan was cast as the first American voice actor for the Korean video game company, Nexon. Over the next several years Dan was the flagship voice of the company, appearing in such titles as Mabinogi, Maple Story, Vindictus, Dragon Nest, Dungeon Fighter Online and Atlantica. In total he has voiced nearly 100 characters for Nexon.In late 2012 Dan’s voice over career took an unexpected turn into book narration. His first audition landed him the job of narrating The Psychology of Twilight, a psychological look at the wide-spread obsession of the Twilight saga created by Stephanie Meyer.  Eighteen more audiobook narrations have followed and show no signs of slowing down.

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C.J. McAllister

C.J. McAllister is an Audible Approved Producer — “Audible Approved producers are the best audiobook producers in the business.” Only a small number are awarded this honor.

C.J. has produced best-selling audiobooks in multiple genres/styles, TV commercials/promo teasers, animation projects, interviews (TV and radio), corporate presentations.

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James C. Lewis

Another Audible Approved narrator, voice actor  James Lewis has established a solid reputation in fiction as well as non-ficton audiobooks. At latest count, he’s narrated nearly 50.

Although his specialty is noir fiction, James has done several non-fiction books as well on a range of people and subjects: Butch and Sundance, General Custer, Revolutionary War, psychic development, taxes.

James Lewis has been awarded the AudioFile Earphone Award for narration, “The Last Outlaws”. It’s about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

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Mike Alger

A broadcast veteran of over 30 years, Mike Alger is best known as the award-winning Chief Meteorologist for KTVN-TV in Reno, NV. He is also a successful author, having penned the Mystery-Thriller novel “Snow Storm,” and is the narrator of the audiobook of the same name.

TOUR SCHEDULE:

May 8 – Library of Clean Reads – tour spotlight / interview with C.J. McAllister
May 8 – Corinne Rodrigues – book spotlight  / guest post / giveaway
May 8 – Working Mommy Journal – review of Old Loves Die Hard
May 9 – T’s Stuff – review of Old Loves Die Hard / author interview / giveaway
May 9 – Amie’s Book Reviews – review of Old Loves Die Hard
May 10 – Elizabeth McKenna Romance Author – book spotlight / giveaway
May 10 – TDC Book Reviews – review of Shades of Murder / author interview
May 11 – Amie’s Book Reviews – review of The Murders at Astaire Castle /  interview with Dan Lawson
May 11 – Blätterflüstern – review of Old Loves Die Hard / interview with James Lewis
May 12 – Book Crazy Scrapbook Mama – book spotlight / interview with CJ McAllister / giveaway
May 12 – Books, Dreams, Life – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
May 12 – The Cubicle Escapee – review of The Murders at Astaire Castle
May 15 – Dab of Darkness Book Reviews – review of Old Loves Die Hard
May 15 – Books for Books – review of Blast from the Past
May 16 – Books for Books – review of The Lady Who Cried Murder
May 16 – And the Buck Starts Here – review of Old Loves Die Hard / author interview
May 17 – Books for Books – review of The Murders at Astaire Castle
May 17 – Lovely Loveday – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
May 18 – Blätterflüstern – review of The Murders at Astaire Castle
May 18 – Writers and Authors – guest post / giveaway
May 19 – T’s Stuff – review of Shades of Murder / interview with Mike Alger / giveaway
May 19 –  Madison Loveday – book spotlight / giveaway
May 22 – Mystery Suspense Reviews – review of Old Loves Die Hard
May 23 – And the Buck Starts Here – review of The Murders at Astaire Castle / interview with Dan Lawson
May 23 – Reviews by Martha’s Bookshelf – review of Old Loves Die Hard / guest post by James Lewis
May 24 – Nighttime Reading Center – review of Old Loves Die Hard
May 24 – Reviews by Martha’s Bookshelf – review of Dead on Ice
May 25 – Mystery Suspense Reviews – interview with James Lewis
May 26 – Bound 4 Escape – review of Old Loves Die Hard / giveaway
May 26 – T’s Stuff – review of Dead on Ice / giveaway
May 26 – Book Lover Promo – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 29 – Blooming with Books – review of Twelve to Murder / guest post / giveaway
May 30 – Literary Flits – review of Old Loves Die Hard / giveaway
May 30 – Blooming with Books – review of Cancelled Vows / giveaway
May 31 – TDC Book Reviews – review of Blast From the Past / interview with Dan Lawson
June 1 –  Working Mommy Journal – review of The Lady Who Cried Murder
June 2 – Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine – review of Real Murder
June 5 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – review of Old Loves Die Hard / guest post
June 6 – Dab of Darkness Book Reviews – review of Dead on Ice
June 7 – Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine – guest post by Mike Alger
June 8 – #redhead.with.book – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
June 8 – The Cubicle Escapee – review of The Lady Who Cried Murder
June 9 –  Nighttime Reading Center – review of Twelve to Murder
June 9 –  Bound 4 Escape – review of Shades of Murder / giveaway
June 12 – Book review nature photos – review of Kill and Run / author interview
June 12 – Literary Flits – review of Dead on Ice / giveaway
June 13 – Books for Books – review of Three Days to Forever
June 14 – Laura’s Interests – review of Cancelled Vows / interview with James Lewis / giveaway
June 15 – My Reading Journeys – review of Shades of Murder / author interview / giveaway
June 16 – Library of Clean Reads – review of Dead on Ice / giveaway
June 19 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – review of The Lady Who Cried Murder
June 19 – By The Book – review of Kill and Run
June 20 – A Holland Reads – review of Dead on Ice / guest post / giveaway
June 21 – Laura’s Interests – review of Killer in the Band / guest post by Mike Alger / giveaway
June 22 – Melina’s Book Blog – review of The Lady Who Cried Murder
June 23 – Melina’s Book Blog – review of Open Season for Murder
June 26 – Book review nature photos – review of A Fine Year for Murder / interview with C.J. McAllister
June 27 – Library of Clean Reads – review of Real Murder / giveaway
June 28 – Working Mommy Journal – review of Dead on Ice
June 29 – Kristin’s Novel Cafe – review of Kill and Run / giveaway
June 30 – Kristin’s Novel Cafe – review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
June 30 – Outset – review of A Fine Year for Murder
July 1 – Writers and Authors – review of Dead on Ice
July 3 – A Holland Reads – review of Real Murder / giveaway
July 3 – Cheryl’s Book Nook – review of Dead on Ice / giveaway
July 4 – Outset – review of Twelve to Murder
July 5 – The Journey Back – review of Dead on Ice / interview with Mike Alger / giveaway
July 6 – Jessica Cassidy – review of Old Loves Die Hard / guest post / giveaway
July 7 – JBronder Book Reviews – review of Shades of Murder / guest post
July 10 – Working Mommy Journal – review of Three Days to Forever
July 11 – Rainy Days Reviews – review of Dead on Ice / giveaway
July 11 – Cheryl’s Book Nook – review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
July 12 – JBronder Book Reviews – review of Blast from the Past
July 12 – Celticlady’s Reviews – book spotlight
July 13 – Rainy Days Reviews – review of Real Murder / giveaway
July 13 – Elsie’s Audiobook Digest – review of Old Loves Dies Hard
July 14 – Jessica Cassidy – review of Shades of Murder

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!  

Prize:  One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (Open internationally)

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Book review: Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay!

  • Published:  March 28, 2017
  • Publisher:  Harper Collins Canada
  • Pages:  560
  • Genre:  General fiction

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  

In present-day Boston, Nina Revskaya, once a great star of the Russian ballet, has decided to auction her jewellery collection and donate the proceeds to the Boston Ballet Foundation. It is a mysterious gesture that has piqued the interest of two particular individuals: a rising associate director at the auction house, Drew Brooks, who seeks to unravel the provenance of the pieces; and a professor and Russian translator at the nearby university, Grigori Solodin, who believes the jewels might hold the key to his past.

The stakes are raised when an anonymous individual donates a necklace that perfectly matches the bracelet and earrings in Nina’s collection, claiming the pieces belong together. It is this donation that will bring Drew and Grigori together in unexpected ways to uncover the story behind Nina’s fabulous jewels—a bounty said to have been smuggled out of Stalinist Russia when she defected from the country in the early 1950s.

It was there, in Russia, that Nina first learned to dance, fell in love with the handsome poet Viktor Elsin, and struggled with the choice to pursue her craft or begin a family. Nina and her circle of free-thinking artist friends lived in constant fear of Stalin’s disapproval, of arrest and torture by the secret police for unpatriotic behaviour and so-called crimes against the state. Yet when their circle was broken by just such an arrest, a devastating misunderstanding parted the four friends and lovers forever.

BUY THE BOOK:   HarperCollins | Amazon

MEET THE AUTHOR:  Daphne Kalotay is the author of the award-winning novel Russian Winter, which has been published in twenty languages, and the fiction collection Calamity and Other Stories. She has received fellowships from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo, and has taught at Boston University, Skidmore College, Grub Street, and Middlebury College. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Connect with the author:  Website – Facebook – Goodreads

REVIEW:

Russian Winter is a Dr. Zhivago-esque blend of fiction and history.  There are several storylines blending together in this book with Nina, a young Russian ballerina as our principal player.  She is now living in Boston and has decided to auction off the jewels she received as gifts while she was living in the Soviet Union.

Grigori Solodin, an immigrant Russian professor in Boston is haunted by artifacts in a purse he received from his parents.  He is unable to determine their provenance until he learns of the auction of Nina Revskaya’s jewels.

Nina grows up in Stalinist Russia and is chosen to work for the Bolshoi Ballet. As she makes her way to becoming the principal dancer, she must choose between what comes first in her life, the Bolshoi Ballet or those she loves.

During the 1950’s in Stalinist Russia it is impossible to trust anyone, and with Nina this mistrust includes her family and friends.   Intrigue, informers and fear are the background to this story.   Despite the political environment, Nina falls in love with a handsome poet, Viktor Elsin.  As artists, however, they are not free to pursue their own passions, they belong to Stalin.

I was concerned that I a very short time frame in which to read this 500+ page book for review. The pages flew!  The author left clues throughout the book and so it was fairly easy to guess what would happen.  However, I was not prepared for the gut-wrenching revelations toward the end of the book. This is a keeper!

 

Book spotlight: The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall by Shannon Kirk

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Book Details:

Book Title:  The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall by Shannon Kirk
Category:  Adult Fiction, 295 pages
Genre: Literary
Publisher:   Reputation Books
Release date:  September 6, 2016
Format available for review:  Print and ebook (mobi, ePub, NetGalley)
Will send print books to: USA & Canada
Tour dates: Jan 16 to Feb 3, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 (Contains a couple of non-explicit, but rather set in impressionist tones, sex scenes.)

Book Description:

What if you could choose your heaven now? Go on a celestial shopping trip of sorts? Thirty-five-year-old Vivienne does just that, as she lies dying in the ICU; a fatal walk into the path of a truck. In her final week of life, Vivienne treks through the Heavens of a priest, a best friend, a homeless child, and a lover who never was. Vivienne’s guardian angel, Noah, who may just be her soul mate, escorts her through selections of Heavens and through the confusion Vivienne experiences as she flounders between a doubt of life and the certainty of death. Although her visits to varied afterlives provide peace and beauty, choosing proves not so easy: Vivienne’s love for her young son and her earthly father pull her from her colorful journey—and from her divine love of Noah.

The nature of love, the variety and magic of life, unending hope, and the importance of saying goodbye are central to this uplifting tale.

Buy the Book:  Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble 

Watch the Book Trailer:

Shannon Kirk

Meet the Author:

Shannon Kirk is the awarding-winning author of the international bestselling Method 15/33 (psychological thriller–bestseller in Colombia and Spain, will be lead title in Italy, 2017) and Heavens (Literary Fiction). Method 15/33 has received multiple accolades: 2015 Foreword Review Book of the Year (Suspense); Winner of 2015 National Indie Excellence Award, Best Suspense; 2015 USA Best Book Finalist; School Library Journal’s Best Adult Books for Teens (2015); and Finalist in 2013 William Faulkner William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition (when a Novella). Method 15/33 is optioned for a major motion film and has sold to nineteen foreign rights.

When not writing, she is a practicing lawyer, residing on Massachusett’s Cape Ann with her husband and son and two cat writing accomplices, Marvin Marquez (in honor of Gabriel Garcia Marquez) and Stewie Poe (Edgar Allen Poe).

Shannon enjoys writing in several genres: literary fiction, psychological thriller, young adult, and poetry. She has been honored three times by the William Faulkner William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

TOUR SCHEDULE:

Jan 16 – #redhead.with.book – book spotlight / giveaway
Jan 17 – Working Mommy Journal – review / giveaway
Jan 17 – A Soccer Mom’s Book Blog – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Jan 18 – Library of Clean Reads – review / giveaway
Jan 19 – Bound 4 Escape – review / giveaway
Jan 20 – Olio by Marilyn – review / author interview / giveaway
Jan 23 – 3 Partners in Shopping Nana, Mommy + Sissy Too! – review / giveaway
Jan 24 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – review / giveaway
Jan 25 – Thoughts on Books – review / giveaway
Jan 26 – Books for Books – review
Jan 27 – The Autistic Gamer – review
Jan 30 – Turning the Pages – review
Jan 31 – Turning the Pages – author interview / giveaway
Jan 31 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – review / guest post / giveaway
Feb 1   –  Shoshi Reads – review / giveaway
Feb 1   –  Jorie Loves A Story – review
Feb 2   –  Svetlana’s Reads and Views – review
Feb 3   – Jessica Cassidy – review / author interview / giveaway

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Book review: Dreaming Sophia: Because Dreaming is an Art by Melissa Muldoon

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Book Details:

Book Title:  Dreaming Sophia: Because Dreaming is an Art by Melissa Muldoon
Category:  Adult Fiction, 232 pages
Genre: Literary
Publisher:  Matta Press
Release date:   August 2016
Available for review in: print and ebook (ePub, PDF, mobi)
Will send print books: USA & Canada
Tour dates:  Nov 21 to Dec 16, 2016
Content Rating:  PG (Mild profanity, and mild religious expletives, exploration Italian swear words, kissing – oh my!)

Book Description:

Dreaming Sophia is a magical look into Italy, language, art, and culture. It is a story about turning dreams into reality and learning to walk the fine line between fact and fantasy. When tragedy strikes, Sophia finds herself alone in the world, without direction and fearful of loving again. With only her vivid imagination to guide her, she begins a journey that will take her from the vineyards in Sonoma, California to a grad school in Philadelphia and, eventually, to Italy: Florence, Lucca, Rome, Verona, Venice, and Val d’Orcia.

Through dreamlike encounters, Sophia meets Italian personalities—princes, poets, duchesses, artists, and film stars— who give her advice to help put her life back together. Following a path that takes her from grief to joy, she discovers the source of her creativity and learns to love again, turning her dreams into reality.

Buy the Book:  

Amazon – print
Amazon / Kindle – ebook
Create Space
I-tunes – Apple Store-ebook
Barnes & Noble – ebook

Inktera-ebook

Melissa meets Sophia Loren in March 2016!

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Watch as Melissa talks about her debut novel: 

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Melissa MuldoonMeet the Author:

Melissa Muldoon is the Studentessa Matta-the crazy linguist! In Italian, “matta” means “crazy” or “impassioned”. Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master’s degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence.

Melissa promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog, Studentessa Matta (studentessamatta.com). Melissa began the Matta blog to improve her command of the language and to connect with other language learners. It has since grown to include a podcast, “Tutti Matti per l’Italiano” and the Studentessa Matta YouTube channel. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Tours, which she co-leads with Italian partners in Italy.

Dreaming Sophia is Melissa’s first novel. It is a fanciful look at art history and Italian language and culture, but it is also the culmination of personal stories and insights resulting from her experiences living in Italy, as well as her involvement and familiarity with the Italian language, painting, and art history.

As a student, Melissa lived in Florence with an Italian family. She studied art history and painting and took beginner Italian classes. When she returned home, she threw away her Italian dictionary, assuming she’d never need it again but after launching a successful design career and starting a family, she realized something was missing in her life. That “thing” was the connection she had made with Italy and the friends who live there. Living in Florence was indeed a life-changing event! Wanting to reconnect with Italy, she decided to start learning the language again from scratch. As if indeed possessed by an Italian muse, she bought a new Italian dictionary and began her journey to fluency-a path that has led her back to Italy many times and enriched her life in countless ways.
Now, many dictionaries and grammar books later, she dedicates her time to promoting Italian language studies, further travels in Italy, and sharing her stories and insights about Italy with others. When Melissa is not traveling in Italy, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is married and has three boys and two beagles.

Melissa designed and illustrated the cover art for Dreaming Sophia. She also designed the Dreaming Sophia website and created the character illustrations that can be found in the book and on the Dreaming Sophia websites.

Connect with the Author:
Website  ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Youtube ~
Pinterest

REVIEW:
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Can you learn history through fantasy?  It certainly felt like that as I read Dreaming Sophia. I’m a history and art buff and didn’t realize how much I would enjoy reading this fantasy / novel.  Sophia’s muses really make Italian history “come to life” and their inclusion added an unusual dimension to her story. The interaction between her “dream characters” was clever. On several occasions her “muses” moved me to put down the book and do more research into their lives.  I was also interested in the different pieces of artwork mentioned in the book.
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Florence, Venice and Rome hold many fond memories for me.   I was able to recall some of these wonderful memories about these cities from the author’s descriptions of the architecture, food and museums.
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I really loved that the author used a lot of Italian expressions in the book (together with the their translation).  It gave the book such an “Italian” feel.
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The artwork on the cover was simply beautiful and immediately caught my attention.  What is even more incredible is that the author created the artwork herself!
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You can find more interesting tidbits on Melissa’s website such as:
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Her muses:  http://dreamingsophiabook.com/sophias-muses/
An Italian dictionary: http://dreamingsophiabook.com/italian-dictionary/
Music videos from the book:  http://dreamingsophiabook.com/music-videos/
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Together with all the author’s multimedia, reading the book was a really fun experience!
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Book review: The Stages of Grace: Life and Love in the Face of Alzheimer’s by Connie Ruben

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Book Details:

Book Title:  The Stages of Grace: Life and Love in the Face of Alzheimer’s by Connie Ruben
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction,   149 pages
Genre: Memoir, drama
Publisher:   Xlibres
Release date:  July 2015
Format available for review:  Print and ebook (PDF)
Will send print books to: USA & Canada
Tour dates: Nov 21 to Dec 9, 2016
Content Rating: PG (There are a couple of swear words such as “asshole” but no F words)

Book Description:

This book was written out of a desire to share with others who have loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease what I have experience as Grace’ caregiver and friend. I wanted to capture the emotions, the expected and the unexpected issues, the painful times as well as the humorous and loving moments that Grace and I have shared as a result of this disease. This is not mean to be a handbook for dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, but I hope that by sharing my feelings and experiences, readers may recognize they are not alone on this particular journey.

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Amazon.ca

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Meet the Author:

Connie Ruben is an entrepreneur with well developed management skills. She has run several large companies, and prides herself on empowering others to work to their full potential. Connie also has an intimate knowledge of the challenges and joys of caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease, as her mother-in-law Grace was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s disease in 2003. While Connie still struggles to balance her work life and home life, her understanding of this disease has made it easier for her to negotiate the demands of being a caregiver, as well as a wife, mother, and employer. She has written this book in order to share the insights she has gained as Grace’s primary caregiver and friend. Most importantly, Connie wants this book to assure others that caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be enjoyable, life-affirming, and emotionally significant.

Connect with the author: Website 

REVIEW:
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I had the opportunity to meet Connie at the 2015 Book Expo in New York and that is where I first saw her book about her life with Grace.
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Connie first meets Grace through Grace’s son (and her future husband) and immediately forms a very close and loving friendship with this lively and caring lady.
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Years later, in 2003 Grace receives a  diagnosis of advanced Alzheimer’s disease.  Connie is thrown into despair and confusion.  Grace has been her pillar, a mother figure and a close friend and the fear of watching Grace lose her ability to communicate and care for herself frightens Connie.   Connie’s relationship with Grace changes from that of a friend to primary caregiver and through trial and error and often humourous situations, she learns that despite the frustration and helplessness she feels, there are still plenty of unexpected happy and funny moments they share together.
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What I learned from Connie and Grace’s story is that in some situations, unpredictability and loss of control might leave us feeling helpless and frustrated.  We can’t do everything by ourselves so by accepting assistance and support we are able to navigate through unsure waters with more confidence.  Although not a guide to treating Alzheimer’s patients, this account gives us insight into some of the situations we may encounter with a patient suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
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Book review: The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain

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  • The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain
  • Publisher:  Gallic Books
  • Published:  September 3, 2013
  • Pages:  208
  • Genre:  World literature / adult fiction

DESCRIPTION:

This prize-winning French bestseller is a charming fable about the power of a hat that takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride through French life during the Mitterrand years.

Dining alone in an elegant Parisian brasserie, accountant Daniel Mercier can hardly believe his eyes when President François Mitterrand sits down to eat at the table next to him.

After the presidential party has gone, Daniel discovers that Mitterrand’s black felt hat has been left behind. After a few moments’ soul-searching, Daniel decides to keep the hat as a souvenir of an extraordinary evening. It’s a perfect fit, and as he leaves the restaurant Daniel begins to feel somehow…different.

Has Daniel unwittingly discovered the secret of supreme power?

For two years the iconic item of headgear plays with the lives of the men and women who wear it, bringing them success that had previously eluded them. Antoine Laurain’s brilliantly orchestrated tour captures entertaining portraits of a rich gallery of characters.

Shot through with a delicious, wicked sense of humor, ‘The President’s Hat’ is a vivid re-creation of the everyday life of an era.

“As entertaining as it is original, this is a story to enjoy like a chocolate with a surprise centre.”- ‘Marie France’

BUY THE BOOK:    Amazon   Barnes & Noble

author-247x300MEET THE AUTHOR:  

Novelist, journalist, screenwriter, director, collector of antique keys … Antoine Laurain was born in Paris in the early 1970s. After studying cinema, he began his career directing short films and writing screenplays. His passion for art led him to take a job assisting an antiques dealer in Paris. The experience provided the inspiration for his first novel, Ailleurs si j’y suis, the story of a collector, which was awarded the Prix Drouot in 2007. Fume et tue, a satirical tale of addiction and murder, was published the next year, followed by Carrefour des Nostalgies, whose central character was a failed local politician.

Published on the eve of the French presidential elections of 2012, Antoine Laurain’s fourth, fairytale-like novelThe President’s Hat was acclaimed by critics, readers and booksellers, who awarded it the Prix Landerneau Découvertes. It also won the Prix Relay des Voyageurs, a prize which celebrates the enjoyment of reading. The President’s Hat has been adapted for television in France.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:   WEBSITE 

REVIEW:

The President’s Hat is another feather in the cap of author Antoine Laurain! Delightfully descriptive and entertaining. In his characters we are bound to find a bit of ourselves. It’s rare to really develop an affinity for multiple characters in a book and I loved each and every one of them.

The story is based in France, including Paris and we are allowed a peek into the lives of everyday people who come face-to-face with the same, everyday issues that we do. If you are a foodie you will be constantly hungry as Antoine’s describes with detail the typical French “repas”.

Oh, and did I mention, there is a hat in the story? If this was a movie, it would receive it’s own credit!

Wonderful storytelling!

Book review: Michelangelo’s Ghost: A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery by Gigi Pandian

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Book Details:

Book Title:  Michelangelo’s Ghost: A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery by Gigi Pandian
Category:  Adult fiction,   288 pages
Genre: Mystery
Publisher:  Henery Press
Release date:  October 2016
Format available for review: ebook
Tour dates:  October 10 to 21, 2016
Content Rating:  PG

Book Description:

A lost work of art linking India to the Italian Renaissance. A killer hiding behind a centuries-old ghost story. And a hidden treasure in Italy’s macabre sculpture garden known as the Park of Monsters… Can treasure-hunting historian Jaya Jones unmask a killer ghost?

Filled with the unexpected twists, vivid historical details, and cross-cultural connections Pandian is known for, Michelangelo’s Ghost is the most fast-paced and spellbinding Jaya Jones novel to date.

When Jaya’s old professor dies under eerie circumstances shortly after discovering manuscripts that point to a treasure in Italy’s Park of Monsters, Jaya and her brother pick up the trail. From San Francisco to the heart of Italy, Jaya is haunted by a ghost story inexorably linked to the masterpieces of a long-dead artist and the deeds of a modern-day murderer. Untrustworthy colleagues, disappearing boyfriends, and old enemies—who can Jaya trust when the ghost wails?

Praise for Gigi Pandian’s Jaya Jones Mysteries:

“Charming characters, a hint of romantic conflict, and just the right amount of danger will garner more fans for this cozy series.” – Publishers Weekly on Quicksand

“Pandian’s sprightly prose celebrates the pleasures of Italian painting, food, and landscape. The light touch, swift pace, and verve maintained throughout the novel disguise the deeper thought and scholarship underpinning the story, which like the stage props of a conjurer, make the magic happen.”– Linda Lappin, Author of Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble

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Meet the Author:

USA Today bestselling author Gigi Pandian is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip of India. She spent her childhood being dragged around the world, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Gigi writes the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries, the Accidental Alchemist mysteries, and locked-room mystery short stories. Gigi’s debut novel, Artifact, was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant and named a “Best of 2012” debut by Suspense Magazine. Her fiction has been awarded the Lefty Award and short-listed for Macavity and Agatha Awards. Sign up for her email newsletter at www.gigipandian.com/newsletter.

Connect with the author:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

REVIEW:
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This is the second novel I’ve read by Gigi Pandian (and her 4th mystery in the Jaya Jones series) and I wasn’t disappointed.  Jaya Jones or “JJ” receives an intriguing call from an old professor / mentor with whom she has been out of contact for many years.  The professor has found evidence of cross-culture artwork between Mogul India and the Italian Renaissance.  When a link to Michaelangelo is intimated, Jaya can’t resist the lure to investigate for herself.  What she doesn’t anticipate is that there is someone else on the same trail.  Someone who is willing to kill for the prize she’s after.
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Jaya Jones is a historian turned part-time detective.  Her character is believable,  her insecurities and flaws make her more personable and the inclusion of some interesting and well-developed secondary characters (and a romance) in the series round out her quirky personality.
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I enjoy a good mystery and if there is a smart female lead, then I’m hooked. This is good fiction with plenty of unexpected plot twists and great Italian food descriptions.  I can’t wait for the next book in the Jaya Jones series.
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Book review: Shouting from the Summits by Kala Ramachandran

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  • Publisher:  Clink Street Publishing
  • Date released:  September 13, 2016
  • Format:  Paperback, ebook
  • Genre:  Memoir, biography, non-fiction
  • Pages:  83

Book Description:

‘Living proof that a stammer need not hold you back’. Leys Geddes Kala Ramachandran struggled with a stammer and it became so debilitating, she thought it would be with her her whole life. But then she embraced mountaineering. And finally found her voice. This is her story. ‘It is a given we will have obstacles in life, some of us from the very beginning. Kala’s story is one of perseverance; of overcoming; of hope. The world she grew up in didn’t include Asian women who climbed mountains. Now it does thanks to Kala never letting go of her dream.’ Warren Macdonald

Buy the book:   Amazon

See the video interview with Kala:

Kala Ramachandran, Authoright author published by Clink Street Publishing from Authoright on Vimeo.

REVIEW:  

As you can see from the accompanying video, Kala Ramachandran was fiercely determined to prove both to herself and her family that she could achieve anything she wanted.  Kala suffered from a speech impediment (stuttering) from a young age and as a result, became very shy and withdrawn.  However, she was a keen student and excelled in her studies.

One day, during a geography lesson, her father told her about a Japanese lady, Junko Tabei, who was the first woman to climb Mount Everest.  Kala’s search for purpose in life and love for mountaineering began at that moment.

The book is written in Kala’s own words and because  Kala is self-taught when it comes to the English language, the language in the book is somewhat rudimentary.  However, as I read through her story, I felt like I was listening to a conversation from Kala herself and could easily follow along.

Although not a mountaineer myself, I have had the opportunity to visit Everest base camp and feel happiest when I can catch a glimpse of “my” mountains every day. Kala’s story caught my attention right away because I also have a degree in speech therapy which included helping those who stutter.  Her perseverance and willingness to leave her comfort zone are truly commendable.

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Book review: The Yard by Aliyyah Eniath

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  • Publisher: Speaking Tiger Books; 1 edition (April 5, 2016)
  • Publication Date: April 5, 2016
  • Pages:  (292 pages)
  • Genre:  Literary fiction

ABOUT THE BOOK:

A story of love and redemption, set in Trinidad, that exposes the fault lines in Indo-Muslim culture. Behrooz is brought to a familial complex, The Yard, to live with a devout and extended family, where he struggles to belong. He forms a childish alliance with Maya, a wilful and rebellious girl, and his guardian’s daughter. After they share a night of adolescent tenderness, Maya, fearing retribution, flees to London. Behrooz painstakingly rebuilds his life and marries another. When tragedy strikes, Maya returns to her childhood home. There, she and Behrooz must face up to old demons. Can their love endure? Even after Maya is dealt the most “righteous” blow of all?

Praise

A haunting tale of family, commitment, love…and being true to yourself.  –Roslyn Carrington, author of A Thirst for Rain

The author’s voice speaks in warm and sometimes cold filmic pictures of the universal language of love, honour, commitment, belief and family. When a remote outsider, a young boy, is drawn into and under the beguiling machinations of a devout extended family, there’s disruption in their cultural fabric and hierarchy, that challenges the decisions of a determined young girl’s head and heart. –Peter Jarrette – Author ofBrighton Babylon

On a gem of an island, in a private family enclave, boy — orphaned, rough, longing for acceptance — meets girl — sophisticated, manipulative, afraid of tenderness. The Yard is a sensitive tale of romance, hurt and forgiveness skillfully spun by emergent author Aliyyah Eniath. –Barbara Bamberger Scott — Editor, A Woman’s Write

BUY THE BOOK:    Amazon    Barnes & Noble

Aliyyah-Enaith-Gary-Jordan-2014-web--480x480MEET THE AUTHOR:

Aliyyah Eniath was born in Trinidad and Tobago; her ancestors hailed from Uttar Pradesh, India. She’s a director at Safari Publications, a magazine publishing house, and founder/editor-in- chief of Belle Weddings (Caribbean) magazine.

Her debut novel The Yard (literary, romance) is published by Speaking Tiger Books in both paperback and ebook formats.

She explores the ideas of breaking free from imposed boundaries (familial or otherwise), understanding and feeling supported in who you are, overcoming self-doubt, and finally being true to yourself. Her writing looks at strict religious ideologies and their potential consequences and begs for a softer approach and innate understanding and compassion towards every human being.

She writes from the perspective of East Indians whose forefathers were brought to Trinidad from India through the British colonial indentureship scheme in 1845.

Find out more about Aliyyah at her website, and connect with her on Facebook andTwitter.

REVIEW:

“and for the millionth time in her life, she wished to be normal.”

A deeply moving and emotional love story about a boy and a girl.  Behooz, a boy with no memory of his past or family and Maya, a girl who belongs to a large, extended Muslim family but who has yet to determine where she belongs, form an unusual friendship.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Yard although I did have a hard time comprehending why such a thoughtful and gentle boy would allow himself to be treated with such an unloving and aloof manner by a girl he truly felt a connection with.   Although as a young person Maya is selfish and willful, we see her grow and mature as time passes.

The family dynamics were well developed but I was curious how a family of such extreme differences of belief within the same religion were able to tolerate each other.  I found it hard to believe that British raised men were “instantly” converting to Islam and the “insta-love” situations were a little unbelievable.

In my humble opinion, fewer characters would have allowed more character development of the the main persons in this book.  I would have enjoyed reading more about Maya and Behrooz.

The dialogue was well written and I enjoyed the conversational quality in the book.  I look forward to reading more by this author.

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Book spotlight: Fresh Brewed (The Continental Breakfast Club, Book Two) by Pamela Ford

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Book Details:

Book Title:  Fresh Brewed (The Continental Breakfast Club, Book Two) by Pamela Ford
Category:  Adult fiction, 260 pages
Genre:  Romantic comedy
Publisher: Aine Press
Release date:  June 2016
Available for review in:  print, ebook (mobi, ePub)
Will send print books:  USA & Canada
Tour dates:  August 1 – September 9, 2016
Content Rating:  PG 13 (No sex or violence, but some f-words, shits, hells, and damns!)

Book Description:

Breanna Mitchell is on her way to a relaxing vacation at the ocean. Maybe she’ll even have a beachside fling to help her get over a recent breakup.

But when a tropical storm makes her destination hotel uninhabitable, a chance encounter at continental breakfast delivers a fabulous option—with a catch. She and her friends can stay at a privately-owned, three-story oceanfront home—if she pretends to be the girlfriend of the owner’s heartbreaker grandson, Ethan. Since he won’t even be there, how hard could it be?

Everything is going swimmingly until Bree drinks too much wine and regales the family with romantic tales about her relationship with Ethan. His adorable brother Adam gets suspicious. His marriage-minded grandma gets engagement fever. The beautiful woman next door gets teary-eyed.

And then, Ethan unexpectedly arrives. Suddenly Bree is about to get everything she’s ever wished for—but is it what she really wants?

Buy the book:   Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble

Pamela Ford author picMeet the Author:

Pamela Ford is the award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She grew up watching old movies, blissfully sighing over the romance; and reading sci-fi and adventure novels, vicariously living the action. The combination probably explains why the books she writes are romantic, happily-ever-afters with plenty of plot – and often lots of laughter.

After graduating from college with a degree in Advertising, Pam merrily set off to earn a living, searching for that perfect career as she became a graphic designer, print buyer, pantyhose sales rep, public relations specialist, copywriter, freelance writer – and finally author. Pam has won numerous awards including the Booksellers Best, the Laurel Wreath, and a gold medal IPPY in the Independent Book Publisher Awards. She is a Kindle Book Awards finalist and a two-time Golden Heart Finalist. She lives in Wisconsin where she is working on her next novel.

Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter   Facebook   Goodreads

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