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Saturday, October 21, 2017

First Crush, Last Love by Elizabeth McKenna (Review & Giveaway!)


It's great to have a romance novel to escape with occasionally and this one was a good story.  It also brought me back to my high school years in the 80s!


Book Details:

Book Title: First Crush, Last Love by Elizabeth McKenna
Category: Adult Fiction, 314 pages
Genre: Romance - Contemporary
Publisher: Elizabeth McKenna
Release date: Aug 1, 2017
Tour dates: Oct 16 to Nov 3, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There are a few short, mild sex scenes - nothing too graphic. There is swearing by certain characters. Mature themes include drinking/alcoholism, verbal abuse with some physical pushing, AIDS (a minor character is gay), stalking, brief descriptions of child abuse by a step-parent, and suicide attempt (overdose).

Book Description:

Remember your first crush? How your heart raced and your cheeks flushed whenever you saw him? Jessie Baxter does, and it’s happening again. Ten years ago, despite her best efforts, Lee Archer wanted to be just friends. Now, he wants more, but Jessie's still recovering from a psycho ex-husband. Can she learn to trust again and make her first crush into her last love?

Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel will have you remembering the angst of high school, the grief of a failed relationship, and the happiness of true love.


My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

First Crush, Last Love was a fun book to escape with. The first part of the book is set in 1984 when both Jessie and Lee are seniors in high school. I graduated in 1986 so this was my teen era. It actually brought me back to those awkward teen years when I also experienced my first love and dated my first boyfriend.

The story follows two teens, Jessie and Lee, who are friends. But Jessie has a serious crush on Lee who only reciprocates with friendship. Once they graduate, the story follows their lives as they move to different cities until they meet again at a 10-year high school reunion in their hometown. They have both experienced life-changing paths and although their meeting again is bittersweet, it also brings them back to their friendship.

I enjoyed the author's writing style. She can skillfully move the story forward with great dialogue and emotions that are felt through the scenes. Although this seems to be primarily Jesse's story, at one point the chapters alternate between both Jessie and Lee's point of view so that we get to know him better. I liked this and enjoyed both their stories.

As for content, there are a lot of scenes with drinking, getting drunk and partying. The sex scenes aren't too graphic and there is language with a few f-bombs and some marital abuse.

If you enjoy books set in the 80s with a solid all-American romance story, then you will enjoy First Crush. Last Love.

To read reviews, please visit Elizabeth McKenna's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:






Meet the Author:



Elizabeth McKenna works as a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. Though her love of books reaches back to her childhood, she had never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene).

She had always wanted to write fiction, so she combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write Cera's Place and Venice in the Moonlight. Her short story, The Gypsy Casts a Spell, is available for free on her site http://elizabethmckenna.com/. She hopes you will enjoy her first contemporary romance novel, First Crush Last Love, as much as others have enjoyed her historical romances.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn't writing, working, or being a mom, she's sleeping.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Nov 11

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

How to Turn Your Mom into a Monster by Aurora Whittet (Review & Giveaway!)


Aurora Whittet is back with another children's book! I loved this one. I mean, look at that cover. It's hilarious, eye-catching and speaks volumes. And that catchy title...even now as teens my kids can turn me into a monster! Check out my review and then enter to win a copy too!

Book Details:

Book Title: How to Turn Your Mom into a Monster by Aurora Whittet
Category: Children's Fiction, 40 pages
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Publisher: Wise Ink Publishing
Release date: Oct 2, 2017
Tour dates: Oct 16 to 27, 2017
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

Do you like smearing your lunch all over yourself? Do you fight with your sister just because she's there? Do you find yourself unable to go to bed because mysterious ninjas keep stealing your pajamas? Then you're a little monster! Guess what: Mom can be a monster too! It's up to you to make your mom's monster come out to play . . .


My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

I've been reading kidlit for years, first with my kids, who are now teens, and then just for the pleasure of rediscovering the joy of seeing the world through young eyes. I can spot a good children's book right away, from the cover to the title, it begs to be picked up. That's so true for How to Turn Your Mom Into a Monster. I mean, look at that cover. It's hilarious, eye-catching and speaks volumes. And that catchy title...even now my kids can turn me into a monster!

This book highlights normal kid behavior as children learn to explore and navigate their world as a means to get a mother's attention and turn her into a monster. Such as smearing lunch all over themselves and running around laughing rather than putting on their jammies and getting ready for bedtime! This book made me nostalgic. It made me laugh. It brought back wonderful memories.

Although it can be frustrating to clean up the mess of our little ones, the message to parents is clear. Be patient with your child and laugh it off. Look beyond the messes and embarrassing behaviors to the joy children experience when learning about life. It is evident that Whittet is a mom who understands children and the crazy side of parenting. Like Robert Munsch and Shel Silverstein, Whittet brings out that wild, silly and hilarious side of parenting to offset the stresses.

I also love the layout of the book. It is so appealing to the eye. From the adorable colorful monsters to the variations in font, this book stands out. It's perfect to read at bedtime. Little ones are sure to love this one, and moms will rejoice in the knowledge that even after we turn into monsters, we can cuddle, kiss and tell our children we love them, and all will be well. Highly recommended!

To read more reviews, please visit Aurora Whittet's page on iRead Book Tours.


Buy the Book:





Meet the Author:



Aurora Whittet started out as a wild red-haired girl in Minnesota dreaming up stories for her friends to read. Today, she has completed Bloodmark, Bloodrealms, and Bloodmoon of the Bloodmark Saga trilogy, Mama's Knight: A Cancer Story of Love, and How to Turn Your Mom into a Monster. She's a national award-winning graphic designer in her day job. Aurora lives with her family in Minnesota.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram


Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Nov 4



Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Painter's Apprentice: A Novel of 16th-Century Venice (Book Spotlight & Giveaway!)


I'm very excited to be featuring Laura Morelli's newest release! I can't wait to read it. The setting is Renaissance Venice. Need I say more? The author has some goodies for readers who pre-order her book. See below for more info. If you like historical fiction set in Italy, check it out.

Book Details:

Book Title: The Painter's Apprentice: A Novel of 16th-Century Venice
Author: Laura Morelli
Category: Adult Fiction, 482 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: The Scriptorium
Release date: November 15, 2017
Tour dates: Oct 16 to Nov 17, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 (some adult situations but no sex or explicit violence)

Book Description:

Would you rather sacrifice your livelihood, your lover, or your life? When the Black Death comes knocking on your door, you’d better decide quickly.

Venice, 1510. Maria Bartolini wants nothing more than to carry on her father’s legacy as a master gilder. Instead, her father has sent her away from the only home she’s ever known to train as an apprentice to Master Trevisan, a renowned painter.

When the painter’s servants uncover the real reason why Maria has been sent away, they threaten to reveal a secret that could tear down her family and the future of their trade. She is forced to buy the servants’ silence, but as their greed steadily grows, Maria resorts to more desperate measures. She questions whether her heart’s desire is worth risking her family, her trade, and her future, but Maria’s sacrifices may amount to nothing if the plague arrives on her father’s doorstep before she is able to get back home.

From the author of the award-winning The Gondola Maker comes a rich tale of Renaissance Venice, a heroine with a lust for life, and love against all odds.
Pre-Order Campaign:
Laura Morelli's new book, The Painter’s Apprentice, is out on November 15, and she is offering a set of great bonuses exclusively to her readers. If you like to delve deeper into the “story behind the story,” you’ll want to take advantage of Laura’s pre-order package (ends Oct 31st), which takes readers behind the scenes of The Painter’s Apprentice with videos, pictures, commentary about Renaissance Venice, and other exclusive content. Learn more here and order your copy today!


Buy the Book:






Meet the Author:




LAURA MORELLI holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, has taught college students in the U.S. and in Italy, and currently produces art history lessons for TED-Ed. She authored a column for National Geographic Traveler called “The Genuine Article” and has contributed pieces about art and authentic travel to CNN Radio, The Frommers Travel Show, and in USA TODAY, Departures, and other media. Laura is the author of the Authentic Arts guidebook series that includes the popular book Made in Italy. Her fiction brings the stories of art history to life. Her debut novel, The Gondola Maker, won an IPPY for Best Historical Fiction and a Benjamin Franklin Award.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Nov 25


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Monday, October 16, 2017

The Beyond Series by D.D. Marx (Trilogy Spotlight & Giveaway!)



Today I'm kicking off the tour for D.D Marx's Beyond Trilogy! I read Beyond Believing back in 2015, but since then, the author has rebranded and is releasing the next two books this fall. If you like chick-lit that is sweet, funny and romantic, then check out this series. You can even win the whole trilogy with some other fun gifts like a Kindle, spa basket and $25 gift cards!

To read reviews, please visit D.D. Marx's page on iRead Book Tours.





Book Details:

Book Title: Beyond Believing (Book #1)
Author: D.D. Marx
Category: Adult Fiction, 200 pages
Genre: Chick-Lit
Publisher: Beyond Dreams Publishing
Release date: October 2017
Tour dates: Oct 16 to Dec 22, 2017
Content Rating: PG 13 Non-explicit sex, swear words (light...couple f-bombs)

Book Description:

When Olivia gets news of her best friend Dan’s fatal car accident, her entire life is upended. Shattered with grief and struggling to find any meaning or purpose to life, she trudges along with a gaping void in her heart. Finally, when her frustration reaches its peak, Olivia decides to trust Dan’s eternal friendship. That trust allows him to break through to her from the beyond, and Dan guides Olivia through the twists and turns of her life into something new and entirely unexpected.

When Olivia exposes a gigantic internal scandal at work, her career implodes. With no job and no one to turn to, she escapes to Palm Springs for the sympathy and care of her beloved cousin, Garrett. He isn’t quite the comfort Olivia hoped for, but on that journey, meets someone who fills the void in her heart. She’s never experienced such a deep love. It heals her soul and rekindles her spirit - and just may have been the design of her dearly departed friend all along.

Beyond Believing is a sweet, funny and romantic story that touches the heart, serves up delicious twists and turns, and shows the reader that there’s no such thing as “coincidence.” Author D.D Marx regards this book as her love letter to friendship.


Buy Beyond Believing:





Book Details:

Book Title: Beyond Love (Book #2)
Author: D.D. Marx
Category: Adult Fiction; 184 pages
Genre: Chick-Lit
Publisher: Beyond Dreams Publishing
Release date: November 2017
Tour dates: Oct 16 to Dec 22, 2017
Content Rating: PG 13 (Light sex scenes/not explicit; language (couple f bombs)

Book Description:

After trusting in her beloved friend Dan’s guidance from the beyond, Olivia is finally on the path to realizing her destiny. Staring at a blank canvas after ditching her raucous corporate life and meeting the love of her life, Finn McDaniels, a hot, widowed celebrity chef, she is ready to begin anew.

Arriving back in Chicago, she receives more frightening news further delaying her future journey with Finn. Unable to control the outcome, she begins questioning her trust and faith in Dan once again. She distracts herself the only way she knows how, by diving head first into a new project. What seemed like a time-killer may actually be the thing that saves her and catapults her into a world she never dreamed of.

When Olivia and Finn finally reunite, a looming secret is uncovered threatening to ruin the relationship she has waited for her entire life. Olivia is forced to decide whether to tell Finn or let it live in the past forever. Is their relationship strong enough to weather the storm or will it cause them to part ways for good?


Buy Beyond Love:





Book Details:

Book Title: Beyond Forever (Book #3)
Author: D.D. Marx
Category: Adult Fiction, 200 pages
Genre: Chick-Lit
Publisher: Beyond Dreams Publishing
Release date: December 2017
Tour dates: Oct 16 to Dec 22, 2017
Content Rating: PG 13 (Light sex scenes/not explicit; language (couple f bombs)

Book Description:

Just as their life is seemingly back on track, Finn McDaniel’s gets news that sends him into a tail-spin. He is faced with the prospect of losing Olivia Henry forever. He immediately turns to Dan, Olivia’s deceased best friend, who is her loyal and constant guardian angel from the beyond, imploring him for his help. In the midst of all of the chaos a special package is delivered that changes their lives forever.

While Finn is determined to grow his restaurant to new heights by chasing after the coveted Michelin Star, it is Olivia who finally sees her dream come to fruition in a way never thought possible. Finn is determined to support Olivia through her shocking breakthrough and even has a very special surprise up his sleeve that she never sees coming. Just as their plan is set in to motion and they settle in to their new normal, they have an earth shattering encounter. In that moment it is revealed that they have much more than just a spiritual relationship with the beyond.



Buy Beyond Forever:
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble


Watch the trailer:




Meet the Author:


D.D. Marx is a contemporary romantic fiction writer and blogger, as well as a lover of all things social. She is a graduate of the University of Dayton, as well as the Second City program in Chicago, where she currently resides. A proud aunt and self-described hopeless romantic, Marx has always had a knack for humorous and engaging storytelling. Her pen name is a dedication to her beloved friend Dan, who continues to guide and inspire her in her daily life.

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




Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Dec 28




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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tribal Affairs by Matt Dallmann (Review & Giveaway!)




In Tribal Affairs, we are introduced to the fantasy world of genies and this is where the author's imagination soars. Check out my review and scroll down for a chance to win a copy of this book and a $10 Amazon gift card!


Book Details:

Book Title: Tribal Affair by Matt Dallmann
Category: YA Fiction, 277 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Matt Dallmann
Release date: July 2017
Tour dates: Oct 9 to 27, 2017
Content Rating: G (No bad language or sex)

Book Description:

Dahlia, a centuries-old genie, lies hopelessly trapped in a damaged golden locket charm attached to an ankle bracelet. Its owner, sixteen-year-old Liana, wears it for the first time during her father Jamison’s opening night illusion spectacular. Not only does its presence cause Jamison to folly his performance, but it also starts a chain of bizarre events that lead to a showdown with Dahlia’s mortal enemy, Stefan, and an unsuspecting romance between Liana and his son.

Buy the Book:



My Review:

Reviewed by Laura Fabiani


From the book's description, I did not know quite what to expect from this book. I must say that it was not what I expected, and it surprised me throughout. Apart from the story taking on the fantastical world of genies where a centuries-old dispute between ancient tribes of djinns is the predominant plot, there was so much more too.

The story is told through Dahlia, a genie trapped in the locket of an ankle bracelet worn by 16-year-old Liana. Through this narrative, the story alternates between Dahlia's world and tale and Liana's. From the moment Liana puts on the ankle bracelet that used to belong to her mother, a series of bizarre events happen. Liana is then thrust into the world of genies and her legacy comes to light.

We are introduced to the fantasy world of genies and this is where the author's imagination soars. Through a narrative rich in metaphors, we are plunged several times into vivid and colorful imagery filled with both spectacular and sometimes ugly creatures and situations. I never knew what was coming every time the scene changed.

I felt that although this was a fantasy story, there was an underlying message about mental illness, in particular depression. The author seems to have first-hand knowledge of the feelings, such as entrapment, numbness, rage, and fear that comes with having a mental illness. The message that love and forgiveness are key to coping with depression was not lost on me. In addition, the theme of "girl power" or that women are strong and can overcome being put down or abused is also strong. I very much liked this.

The romance is tame and the two main characters are not stereotypical. They are both flawed and need to discover hidden qualities before they build trust and a growing affection for each other. They both have parental issues they need to work through. The ending leaves the reader with a good feeling.

Although fantasy is not the typical genre I like to read, I am always pleased to find well-written books that challenge me to discover other genres. The author's writing style is rich in metaphors and brings alive the world he creates. Lovers of fantasy will devour this one, for sure!

To read more reviews, please visit Matt Dallmann's page on iRead Book Tours.


Meet the author:




Matt Dallmann has a background in acting and holds a BFA from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. His films and screenplays have been featured at film festivals across the United States including Cinequest, Big Apple Film Festival, Seattle’s True Independent Film Festival, DragonCon and Zero Independent Film Festival. His piano compositions have been published for commercial use and he is a member of ASCAP. Matt is also the Co-Founder and Vice President of the boutique medical billing firm VGA Billing Services, Inc. in New York City. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.

Connect with the author: Website

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Nov 3


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Monday, October 9, 2017

The Pretender: A Blackguard in Disguise by Ta'mara Hanscom (Book Spotlight and Giveaway!)



Despite just meeting each other, Tillie and Noah's lives have been mysteriously intertwined for many years in Ta'Mara Hanscom's The Pretender. From the moment they met, Tillie and Noah wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, but a deliberate omission will keep them apart-and that same omission will be responsible for the escape of a murderer, and a bride's deception.

Join Ta'Mara in celebrating the release of the second printing and new covers by entering to win her $75 prize basket giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of The Pretender
  • A $75 Amazon gift card
  • A decorative box containing measuring cups, ten recipes from the book, a potholder, a kitchen towel, pepper and salt grinders, kitchen utensils, and an olive oil dispenser

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on October 11. The winner will be announced October 12 on the Litfuse blog.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sunday Post, Mailbox Monday and It's Monday What Are You Reading? Oct 9 Edition


Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

We're having an amazing autumn with clear sunny skies and warm temperature. Almost too good to be true, which makes me think that our winter is going to be a killer.


My sister is arriving from Zurich today and we look forward to a few family get-togethers while she's here. I hope you're all having a great reading week!


Mailbox Monday Edition


Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home on its blog. Link up to share your MM.


My mailbox!
For review:

This historical fiction is set in Victorian England and I've been waiting awhile for its release!


The wonderful Aurora Whittet has just released another kidlit. This one is totally irresistible!


I have been waiting for this sequel and look forward to digging into it. An Italia immigrant family trying to settle in 1950s Australia.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organise yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.



What I read and/or featured last week:


Life Long by Ronald L. Ruiz (Review, Author Interview & Giveaway)


Appointment with Yesterday by Christopher Stratakis (Book Spotlight and Giveaway!)



Reading Now:





Stop by and enter my giveaways!





Also posted on the right sidebar.

Hope you all have a great reading week.

Life Long by Ronald L. Ruiz (Review, Author Interview & Giveaway)


Written in the first person point-of-view of a teenager with schizophrenia, Life Long is a powerful portrayal of the struggle one orphaned boy experiences. This book is dedicated to the author's daughter who has paranoid schizophrenia and whose painting is depicted on the cover of this book, which I thought was perfect for this story. Read my review and my interview with the author. You can also win a copy of this book and a $20 Amazon gift card.

Book Details:

Book Title: Life Long by Ronald L. Ruiz
Category: Adult Fiction, 268 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Amika Press
Release date: June 9, 2017
Tour dates: Sept 18 to Oct 6, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (For foul language - lots of words - and questions about the existence of God)

Book Description:

Ray Lopez is on the run with a duffel bag full of cash. Both drug dealers and the police are after him. But Ray is not a criminal. His last brush with the law was over traffic tickets. Recently released from the hospital with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, he is haunted by voices, auditory hallucinations, that frighten him and cause him to question his every move.

Ray’s journey from California to Laredo is perilous. Like so many Americans before him, he travels through unfamiliar territory with no clear way of knowing who will help and who will harm him. And he may well find himself on the wrong side of the border with a mind that has no borders.


My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Written in the first person point-of-view of a teenager with schizophrenia, Life Long is a powerful portrayal of the struggle one orphaned boy experiences as he is caught up trying to survive in a world that lacks understanding and takes advantage of the less fortunate.

The story opens up with Raymond Lopez telling the reader how he ended up in the dire situation of being on the run with a bag full of money that isn't his. In a series of flashbacks, we get the picture of a teenager who has just lost his grandmother, the remaining member of his family. The compassionate priest Padre Ibarra tries to help him by finding a family for him to stay with, but things unravel when he has a mental breakdown and he ends up in the hospital with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.

For most of the story, Ray is on the run, taking buses from one place to another trying to get as far away as possible from his poor hometown and the police and men he is sure are chasing him. But his meds are running out and he fears he will have another breakdown. The reader is so caught up at this point wondering how Ray is going to fare, being a teenager with no family and a torturous mental illness that threatens to take over as he tries to figure out what to do next.

The author introduces a variety of shady characters that Ray meets on his journey, and how through each one, we get to see how Ray uses what he learns from them to survive on his own as he desperately tries to escape his situation, both social and mental. Through his journey, we get to see the world of the bus depots and the people who use this method of travel because of their poor financial situation. It's clear that the book is partly a social commentary of how society takes advantage of those who are poor, downtrodden, and of a different race.

There is a lot of profanity (especially f-bombs) and crude language in this book, bringing out the rough people Ray meets and interacts with. I get it, but it can still be jarring if you don't like profanity. Apart from this, there is no other questionable content.

The story has a good ending and is hopeful, leaving the reader with the truth that the kind acts of others can make a huge difference in a person's life. I enjoyed this story immensely. Having worked in child psychiatry, I have an affinity for stories that deal with mental illness in a way that brings out understanding and empathy in the reader. Kudos to the author for accomplishing this.

To read reviews, please visit Ronald L. Ruiz's page on iRead Book Tours.


Praise for Life Long:

"Ruiz proves to be a very sharp social critic, and no detail gets past him in this richly imagined book. A highly recommended novel that appeals to both the heart and the head."
- Kirkus Reviews



Buy the Book:





My Interview with Ronald L.Ruiz:

LCR: Welcome to Library of Clean Reads! We are so pleased to be featuring your latest novel. Can you describe your book in 20 words or less?

RLR: Thank you for inviting me. A poor, uneducated, young man deals with his mental illness.

LCR: What made you want to write a book about a man dealing with schizophrenia?
RLR: One of my daughters has paranoid schizophrenia.

LCR: What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book? The easiest?

RLR: The most challenging. Keeping my daughter out of the book....The easiest. Recalling the suffering of a paranoid schizophrenic.

LCR: Do you think that mental illness needs to be explored more in literature?
RLR: Yes, if it leads to a better understanding of mental illness.

LCR: How much of your former profession as lawyer influences your writing?

RLR: Being a lawyer greatly influenced my writing of Happy Birthday Jesus, The Big Bear and A Lawyer. It had none or very little influence in writing Giuseppe Rocco, Jesusita, and Life Long.

LCR: If you could travel back in time, where would you go? Who would you see?

RLR: I would travel to Nepal and watch the life styles of the Buddhist people there.

LCR: What is the funniest (or strangest, or scariest) incident that has ever happened to you?

RLR: One of the scariest experience I ever had was learning that I am afraid of heights while I was driving alone over a very busy San Francisco Bay Bridge.

LCR: Can you share with us some of your favorite authors and what you are currently reading?

RLR: I revere the Russian authors Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky. I am a great admirer of Cormac McCarthy's genius. I am currently reading Cormac McCarthy´s All The Pretty Horses for the third time.

LCR: Any future projects you would like to share with us?

RLR: I am currently working on my version of a love story.

LCR: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions!

Meet the Author:


Born and raised in Fresno California - Educated at St. Mary´s College California, University of California Berkeley, University of San Francisco - Practiced law from !966 to 2003 as a Deputy District Attorney, a criminal defense attorney, and a Deputy Public Defender - Appointed to the California Agriculture Labor Relations Board by Governor Jerry Brown in 1974 and later served as the District Attorney of Santa Cruz County California.

Ronald L. Ruiz has published 5 novels and a memoir. Happy Birthday Jesus (1994), Giuseppe Rocco (1998), The Big Bear (2003), A Lawyer (2012), Jesusita(2015). and Life Long (2017).

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Facebook


Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Oct 14


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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Black Market Concierge by Barry Oberholzer (Review, Author Interview and Giveaway!)


The Black Market Concierge is a must-read for any enthusiastic reader of espionage novels, except that this is based on real life because it's a memoir! Check out my hubby's review, read our interview with the author, and then enter the giveaway for a chance to be one of the first five winners to win a copy and a $30 Amazon gift card.

Book Details:

Book Title: The Black Market Concierge: Sanction Busting, Smuggling & Spying for America
Author: Barry Oberholzer
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 177 pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Amazon
Release date: November 2016
Tour dates: Sept 25 to Oct 13, 2017
Content Rating: PG (Violence)

Book Description:

Barry Oberholzer’s secret life as a confidential informant, infiltrating international organized crime syndicates and sanction-busting activity hit headlines in 2012. Oberholzer reported an array of vital intelligence to the CIA and multiple intelligence agencies across the world. For years, he has worked across the Middle East and behind the scenes as a confidential informant making connections, extracting valuable intelligence, and facing off against America's greatest enemy at every turn.

In The Black Market Concierge, he opens a window into his double life as an informant; informing on the role of key players including major corporations, crime syndicates, politicians and government officials in high-value international smuggling operations.

After exposing corruption at the highest levels of government in South Africa, he is ready to give a no holds barred account of what it is like to live the life of a high-level, confidential informant.

His memoir is a searingly honest account of a boy aviation enthusiast who cascaded into the world of international espionage and how it ultimately sent him in search of salvation in his devout Christian faith. It is a testimony that will move even the most cold-hearted.


My Review:
Reviewed by Fil Piccolo

The Black Market Concierge is a must-read for any enthusiastic reader of espionage novels or the illegal global trade market. From smuggling cigarettes and drugs to military goods, this book will entertain readers who want to know more about the inside story of contraband.

When reading espionage novels, one always wonders how much in the story is real or just based on the author’s inventiveness. This memoir, however, is Barry Oberholzer's personal account of his real experiences as an informant. Barry was not initially trained by government agencies to investigate illegal global trades. Instead, he began as an ambitious young man who was following his dream of entering the aviation industry only to be recruited by government middlemen whose purpose was to circumvent trade sanctions. From there, his name spread to the global black market and soon he was contacted by smugglers of narcotics and eventually military goods.

This book was an eye-opener on the black market's inner workings and how governments make key arrests and seizures. While governments have huge resources at their disposal, the information of an informant is clearly indispensable at times. The dangers for an informant is clearly seen in this personal account.

I would easily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys memoirs about people who have done extraordinary things and who have made big changes in their lives. It was a page turner for me and would be for anyone who likes action adventure based on real-life experiences.

To read more reviews, please visit Barry Oberholzer's page on iRead Book Tours.


Buy the Book:

Watch the trailer:



Interview with Barry Oberholzer:



LCR: Welcome to Library of Clean Reads! Can you describe your book in 20 words or less?

BO: A fast-paced gripping memoir of a former intelligence operative! 

LCR: What do you hope your memoir will do for your readers?

BO: I would like readers to understand that everyone has a story. No one is the same and we can't judge others if we don't know their story. Good and evil are part of life and sometimes people need to get into the evil world to do good. 

LCR: I admire people who set out to write their memoirs and so intimately share their lives with the world. What was the hardest thing about writing this memoir? The easiest?

BO: I think the hardest part was getting a good narration going of all the events. Deciding which parts to include and which to exclude, for my own safety. The easiest was probably the decision to write the book. 

LCR: In your memoir, you disclose the illegal activities of certain people and their country. Were you not afraid of the repercussions of such disclosure?

BO: Indeed. There is a fine line when disclosing this type of information, however, I think people needed to know exactly what I did, why I did it and who was involved. In the end what I did was for a greater good even though the repercussions can linger for a long time...

LCR: What is the funniest (or strangest, or scariest) incident that has ever happened to you?

BO: I think the most fearful was the first few days in a South African jail - the worst prison system in the world - and trying to figure out how the system works and moving up in the jail hierarchy.

LCR: Can you share with us some of the people you admire the most?

BO: I admire anyone that has hit rock bottom, lost everything and rebuild themselves again from the ground up. Whether it is from an addiction, financial difficulties, domestic issues or anything that led to their downfall, the hardest part is getting back on top - and for those - I have the utmost admiration. Jordan Belfort - The Wolf of Wall Street - comes to mind.

LCR: Now a fun question: If you could travel back in time, where would you go? Who would you see?

BO: I think I would like to go back to events starting at The Last Supper and just be a witness to the events over those next few days, the crucifixion, Jesus rising etc. Those were pretty epic moments in time.  

LCR: Any future projects you would like to share with us?

BO: There is a possible TV series based on the book. Details are still confidential, but it is definitely something to look forward to!

LCR: Thanks so much for sharing all this!

Meet the Author:


Born in Houston, Texas, a former professional rugby player and current CrossFit and Ironman athlete, Barry is the founder of TerrorMate app and is a counter-terrorism and intelligence expert. Formerly Barry served as a confidential informant for Department of Homeland Security, Joint Terrorism Task Force, Belgium Customs Intelligence and HM Revenue & Customs Intelligence in the United Kingdom.

One of his most impactful successes was in his identification of Iranian sanction busting syndicates who smuggled US manufactured aircraft and parts to Iran which led to the arrests of several prominent international businessmen. He also had numerous successes in major illicit cigarette seizures in Europe.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter

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Ends Oct 21


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Monday, October 2, 2017

Appointment with Yesterday by Christopher Stratakis (Book Spotlight and Giveaway!)


A few months ago, I read this book and found it to be an Indie gem. It made its way on my list of Best Reads for 2017. You can read my review here. Today, I'm featuring it again and we also have a giveaway where you can win a paperback copy and a $25 Amazon gift card!

Book Details:

Book Title: Appointment with Yesterday: A Novel in Four Parts with a Prologue and an Epilogue
Author: Christopher Stratakis
Category: Adult Fiction, 334 pages
Genre: coming-of-age / WWII / immigrant experience
Publisher: IndieReader
Release date: January 2017
Tour dates: Oct 2 to 20, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There is no bad language or violence, but there are references to sex and sexual situations (including between a pre-teen and teen)


Book Description:

A poignant and compelling first novel, Appointment with Yesterday tells the story of Yanni, a cheeky and delightful Greek boy growing up in a small town on an island in the eastern Aegean.

Left in the care of his loving grandparents, Yanni endures the deprivation and terror of the German occupation during World War II and finally leaves his beloved homeland and family to rejoin the parents who had left him behind to make a better life for themselves in America.

Filled with heartbreaking and heartwarming stories of love, devotion, disenchantment, and dashed dreams, Appointment with Yesterday is, ultimately, the story of hardships overcome and a determined boy’s journey toward finding his destiny.


Buy the Book:





Meet the Author:




Christopher Stratakis was born and raised in Greece. After moving to America, he graduated from Drexel University in 1951 and New York University School of Law in 1955. Shortly after joining the law firm of Poles, Tublin & Patestides in 1960, he became a partner, specializing in admiralty and corporate law.

He has written and published several articles, lectured on professional and historical subjects, served as Legal Advisor to several non-profits (pro bono), and was an arbitrator in maritime disputes. He is the author of Mnimes “Memories” (2010), a book of essays, short stories, and poems that he wrote as a teenager. In 2015, he co-edited Chains on Parallel Roads, a book published by Panchiaki “Korais” Society of New York. In recognition of his extensive community involvement, he has been the recipient of several awards from religious, governmental, and educational institutions.

Mr. Stratakis lives with his wife in New York City. He is the proud father of three and grandfather of three. This is his first novel.

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Ends Oct 28


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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Sunday Post, Mailbox Monday and It's Monday What Are You Reading? Oct 2 Edition


Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

Well we're finally into October and the temperature is back to cool fall lows. I'm loving the changing of the leaves and getting used to the crisper weather.

I'm not much of a TV watcher but I got hooked on TIMELESS this past week, because as many of you know I love time travel. I binge-watched Season One on Netflix but now have to wait for Season 2! *sigh* Hope you are all reading some great books!


Mailbox Monday Edition


Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home on its blog. Link up to share your MM.


My mailbox!
For review:

I like books that promote positive thinking.


This is a lit lovers activity book and I couldn't resist to see what it offers.

Bought:

After reading Neumann's A Year in the Company of Freaks, which I loved, I couldn't resist buying this one set in Italy. Neumann is such a talented writer.



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It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organise yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.



What I read and/or featured last week:



Venetian Blood: Murder in a Sensuous City by Christine Evelyn Volker (Book Spotlight & Giveaway!)



Reading Now:


Wow, this one is powerful!


Stop by and enter my giveaways!



Also posted on the right sidebar.

Hope you all have a great reading week.

Love audiobooks?

Wrote a Book Set in Italy?

 
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