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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sovereignty by Anjenique Hughes (Review & Giveaway!)


One again, I am featuring Sovereignty, Anjenique Hughes' first book in a YA dystopian trilogy. I read and reviewed it last year (read my review) and this time it's being reviewed by Fil, a member of my review team. See his review below and then scroll down to enter for a chance to win your own copy or a $20 Amazon gift card!

Book Details:

Book Title: Sovereignty by Anjenique Hughes
​Category: YA fiction, 262 pages
Genre: Dystopian
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Release date: July 19, 2016
Tour dates: May 15 to June 2, 2017
Content Rating: PG (No F-words, no sexual content, only one kissing scene and mild profanity)

Book Description:

I used to think I knew all the answers; now I no longer even know the questions. - Goro

Under the totalitarian reign of the 23rd century's world's government- The Sovereign Regime- control is made possible by the identity chip implanted in every human being, recording everything that is seen, done, and experienced.

No more bank accounts.
No more smart phones.
No more secrets.

When Goro inadvertently overhears an exchange of sensitive information, causing him to confront the truth about his world and prompting him to choose his true loyalties, his dream of revolution kicks into high gear. Goro doesn't know he has covert intel in his possession both the SR and the resistance movement are desperate to acquire.

Determined to attempt the impossible task of bringing down the world government, he and his closest friends gain access to the key to ultimately deciding who has sovereignty.

But who will get to Goro first: The resistance or the Sovereign Regime?


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My Review:
Reviewed by Fil Piccolo

Sovereignty by Anjenique Hughes is about a futuristic earth and a rogue young man Goro who rebels against the sole government of his time and wants to see its demise.

A totalitarian government named Sovereignty is governing the earth, where futuristic technology allows the government to literally see and hear everything its citizens do. Goro, a young man who was raised in a family distrusting of Sovereignty, does what he can to stop this regime in his corner of the world. But can he do more and how? Little does he know he is to become a menace to Sovereignty’s continued existence.

Sovereignty certainly fits the YA dystopian genre. The characters deal with issues that young readers can connect with. It was also enjoyable to read a book where there is a family life that's not dysfunctional. The story’s futuristic technology is not what makes this book a must read but rather how young people do have tough choices to make and how they can make a difference for themselves and others.

To read more reviews, please visit Anjenique Hughes' page on iRead Book Tours


Disclosure: Thanks to the author for sending me this book for review. I was not told how to rate or review this product.

Watch the Trailer:





Meet the Author:



With master's degrees in education, special education, and counseling, Anjenique "Jen" Hughes is a high school English and math teacher who loves teaching and mentoring young people. She enjoys traveling and has worked with youth on five continents. Saying she is "young at heart" is an understatement; she is fluent in sarcasm, breaks eardrums with her teacher voice (students have complained when they were within earshot), and cracks sarcastic jokes with the best of her students. Her work with ethnically and socioeconomically diverse youth has inspired her to write books that appeal to a broad variety of students seeking stories of bravery, perseverance, loyalty, and success.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook


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Ends June 10

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Your Holistically Hot Transformation by Marissa Vicario (Audiobook Review and Giveaway!)


For those of you who read my blog, you know I love books on the holistic lifestyle. For those of you still skeptical or just wondering how not to get overwhelmed when making the changes for better nutrition and lifestyle, this is the book for you!

Book Details:

Book Title: Your Holistically Hot Transformation: Embrace a Healthy Lifestyle Free of Dieting, Confusion and Self-Judgment
Author: Marissa Vicario
​Category: Nonfiction, 252 pages
Genre: Holistic Health & Nutrition, Wellness
Publisher: Marissa's Well-being and Health
Release date: May 15, 2016
Content Rating: G

Audiobook Details:
Narrated by: Marissa Vicario
Length: 4 hrs and 33 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:01-14-17
Publisher: Falk Audio

Book Description:

Are you tired of fad diets and all-juice cleanses? Confused about all the conflicting nutrition information available? Over feeling guilty for your nutrition slip-ups? Finally learn to trust yourself to make slimming, nutritious and energizing choices without dieting, confusion and self-judgment! Award-winning Health Coach and Women’s Lifestyle Expert, Marissa Vicario, wasn’t always as healthy and happy as she is today. There was a time when her diet had more macaroni and cheese and G&T’s than broccoli and green smoothies. It wasn’t until she hit rock bottom that she realized something had to change, and it was in that moment that she vowed to make her physical, mental and emotional well –being a top priority. 

Your Holistically Hot Transformation follows Marissa’s wellness journey from unfulfilled corporate professional to purpose-driven women’s lifestyle aficionado committed to making healthy, fit and balanced (aka Hot), less intimidating, more approachable and totally attainable to women regardless of where they are on their own path to a healthy lifestyle. You’ll find advice for making healthy living a habit, tips for stocking a healthy kitchen, guidelines for understanding the hunger and fullness cues your body sends you, simple ideas for self-care you’ve never tried before and a sprinkling of fast, fool-proof recipes and motivational mantras. Smart, honest, and actionable, Your Holistically Hot Transformation is the most relatable health and nutrition book of its kind.


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My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

I love the holistic lifestyle and will read books that educate me on nutrition and wellness. When I came across this book, I wanted to read it. I was offered the audiobook and enjoyed listening to it. Marisa Vicario is a health and nutrition coach and listening to her tell about how she came to change her diet and lifestyle was like listening to a girlfriend over coffee.

Vicario covers the basic so if you've read up a lot on this topic you might already know most of the info, although I was still surprised by some things I didn't know, like how good coconut oil is for teeth and gum health. I appreciated the repetition of info I already knew, like to keep well hydrated by drinking more water. We all know that, right? But how many of us actually do it? Most times, we need to hear info a few times before we begin to accept and apply it. I'm now drinking more water thanks to the app Vicario suggests in her book!

I prefer owning reference books because I'm the type that likes to underline, highlight and make notes in the margin. I missed that with this book, although Vicario does include a companion 32-page PDF doc that she refers to in the audio. There are charts, illustrations, diagrams and a few recipes that are helpful. I suggest getting the book too, although listening to a non-fiction book really helps to cement some of the important info you want to retain.

The audio is narrated by Vicario herself, and she does a pretty good job. I enjoyed listening to her voice. There were a few times when she stumbled on words and I could hear the smacking of lips, something that you won't hear with professional narration, but after a while I was so engrossed in the book that I no longer noticed these small foibles.

Your Holistically Hot Transformation is the perfect book for the woman who wants to make better health choices but is struggling or finds it too overwhelming. I liked that Vicario simplifies it all. You can tell she's a coach. She is encouraging and her small steps toward change are very do-able and are like stepping stones to a better lifestyle. Her positive and caring attitude shines through in her new book. If you need a helping hand to get educated on nutrition, this book is for you. I am passing it on to my teen girl who seems to have forgotten all the nutritional stuff I taught her as a kid.

Scroll down to enter the giveaway for a chance to win your own audio copy of this book! But before that, we have an interview with Marissa.

Disclosure: Thanks to the author for sending me this audiobook for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Watch the Trailer:


Interview with Marissa Vicario

Q: What inspired you to write Your Holistically Hot Transformation

A: Health and wellness has become mainstream in recent years, so there's a lot of nutrition information available from a multitude of sources, most of it competing. Because I studied nutrition, I can sort through it all, but what about the woman who is just getting started on her nutrition journey? I noticed that when I started working with a client, she was almost always confused and misinformed about how to eat and the mindfulness and self-­care parts were most often completely missing. I wanted to simplify everything for the woman who is just starting out, confused to the point of paralysis or has tried everything to no avail and wants to start over with a more balanced approach. I remember being that woman at one time, so I wrote the book I would have wanted to read. Sometimes we need someone to reassure us it doesn't have to be so complicated and that everything is going to be OK. That's Your Holistically Hot Transformation.

Q: What does Holistically Hot mean? 

 A: It can mean anything to anyone. For the purposes of the book, "Hot" refers to being healthy, fit and balanced. To me, it means looking and feeling my best naturally without dieting, calorie counting, juice cleanses and other fads. It's things like green smoothies and dark chocolate, daily. Rocking sneakers and a yoga mat just as well as high heels and a manicure and fueling your body, not starving it. It's finding that authentic, healthiest version of you and feeling good about how you arrived there.

Q: Why did you choose to self-publish? 

A: I've had this book in me for many years and I knew that as a first-­‐ time author, traditional publishing would take some time, possible several years. I'm a "make things happen" kind of person and I didn't want to wait, because I know the world needs this book. I think what really solidified my decision was reading Wayne Dyer's book, I Can See Clearly Now. He talks about his own journey as a best-­selling author. His first book was self-­published and he worked tirelessly to make it a success. It really inspired me to action.

Q: How is Your Holistically Hot Transformation tied to your real life experiences? 

A: The entire book is based on my personal experience starting with how I hit rock bottom. All of my experiences up until that point were working in unison to lead me to where I am today. I use a lot of personal stories throughout the book to illustrate the concepts, like listening to your body or cooking at home for one. Everything in the book is something I've tested or rely on in my own life, that's how I know it works! 

Q: What other projects are in the works? 

A: I'm starting the process of writing my next book. As of right now, it will be more like a memoir. 

Q: What kind of training do you have? 

A: I received my Health Coach training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and I'm board-certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. I've taken cooking classes at the Natural Gourmet Institute and I have a certificate in Nutrition for Disease Prevention from the University of California San Francisco. I started my career in corporate communications before making a change so my bachelors degree is in journalism from Northwestern University and my masters degree is in Marketing from New York University.

Q: What is your philosophy on nutrition and wellness? 

 A: Start where you are and do what you can. Eat real food and cook for yourself more often than you dine out. Health and wellness can be really simple if you let it. 

Q: What was the most challenging part about writing this book? 

A: I've always struggled with putting myself out there and telling my story. So, it was hard for me to be vulnerable in the book and tell some of those stories I've never shared anywhere before. Reliving those moments as I wrote the book wasn't always comfortable. Likewise, I know my nutrition philosophy isn't always widely popular so I worried how it would be received. Ultimately, I knew this book would be an expression of me and I can't please everyone. Even if this book helps just one person, it will have served its purpose, so that's what kept me moving forward.


About the Author:


Marissa Vicario, AADP, is an award-winning, board-certified Integrative Health and Nutrition Coach, blogger and Women’s Health & Lifestyle Expert. As the Founder of Marissa's Well-being and Health, she is passionate about teaching women to trust themselves to make nutritious, slimming and energizing choices without resorting to fad diets and all-juice cleanses. Her tips, recipes and expertise have been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, The New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Glamour and Next Generation TV among many other women's lifestyle publications.

After spending a decade and a half as a junk food vegetarian and raging sugar addict, Marissa Vicario discovered whole foods and the way they made her look and feel. Her desire to live a cleaner, healthier lifestyle was so strong, she broke out her hand-me-down pots and pans and dull cutting knives and taught herself to cook in the tiny kitchen of her Manhattan studio apartment. In the process, she learned that food changes everything and single-handedly transformed the trajectory of her life from the inside out. It wasn't long before she decided to study holistic nutrition and make it a career.

When she's not teaching workshops and cooking classes or coaching clients in her private or group programs, you can find her traveling with her husband, David, running with the New York Road Runners or experimenting with flavorful, healthy recipes.

Connect with the Author:  Website    

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Deceiving Bella by Cate Beauman and the Bodyguards of L.A. County Series (Book Spotlight & Giveaway!)


Today I'm excited to be kicking off the tour for Cate Beauman's 11th book in her Bodyguards of L.A. County series! These are romantic suspense novels and fans refer to them as real page-turners. Each novel is a stand-alone. For those of you concerned about content, these are rated R, however I have not read them yet and cannot state how explicit the content is. If you love romantic suspense, be sure to check out the whole series below and enter for a chance to win your own copy!


Book Details:

Book Title: Deceiving Bella: Book #11 In The Bodyguards of L.A. County Series
Author: Cate Beauman
​Category: Adult Fiction, 588 pages
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Createspace
Release date: October 13, 2016
Tour dates: May 22 to June 16, 2017
Content Rating: R (Sex scenes, language, some intense moments)

Book Description:

Isabella Colby has always yearned for normalcy. Now that she’s settled in LA, she finally has it. Good friends, a pretty home, and her thriving career as the Palisades’ top skincare specialist are a dream come true. Bella is content until she meets her hunky new neighbor, but her attraction to the blue-eyed cutie is the least of her worries when contacting her long-lost father threatens to destroy her happy life.

Reed McKinley is more than ready to forget the past. His seven-year stint as an NYPD detective nearly got him killed. His wounds have healed and he’s starting over as Ethan Cooke Security’s latest recruit. With sixty-hour workweeks and little time to himself, the last thing on his mind is a relationship. Then he bumps into the gorgeous woman next door.

Reed and Bella become fast friends. Before long, Reed discovers that Bella is keeping dangerous secrets. Bella may have the answers to decades-old questions he’s been searching for. Reed will risk it all to uncover the truth, but he soon realizes that the deeper he digs, the direr the consequences.

“This book captured my attention from the very beginning. The author did an excellent job of developing the characters and helping the reader feel like he was along for the story. I have enjoyed all of the books in this series, but I must say Deceiving Bella is one of my favorites!”
- Amazon Customer



Buy the Book:




Deceiving Bella is the eleventh book is the Bodyguards of L.A. County Series. Check out the first ten books here!




Book One

Morgan’s Hunter, the story of Morgan and Hunter. (4.2 Stars!)

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Morgan Taylor, D.C. socialite and wildlife biologist, leads a charmed life until everything changes with a phone call. Her research team has been found dead—slaughtered—in backcountry Montana.

As the case grows cold, Morgan is determined to unravel the mystery behind her friends’ gruesome deaths. Despite the dangers of a murderer still free, nothing will stand in her way, not even the bodyguard her father hires, L.A.’s top close protection agent, Hunter Phillips.

Sparks fly from the start when no-nonsense Hunter clashes with Morgan’s strong-willed independence. Their endless search for answers proves hopeless—until Hunter discovers the truth.

On the run and at the mercy of a madman, Morgan and Hunter must outsmart a killer to save their own lives.

"One thing I noticed right away was Hunter is smoking hot. This author captured his attractiveness well. Many romance authors have said their main character was good looking, but this was one of the very few times where I thought, "Wow. He's hot!" And let me tell you blonde-haired blue eyed guys are not my type. The author deserves some serious props here."
- Raven Reviewer


Book Two

Falling For Sarah, the story of Sarah and Ethan. (4.5 Stars / Award Winner!)

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Widow Sarah Johnson struggled to pick up the pieces after her life was ripped apart. After two years of grieving, she’s found contentment in her thriving business as photographer to Hollywood’s A-list and in raising her angel-faced daughter, Kylee…until bodyguard and long-time friend Ethan Cooke changes everything with a searing moonlight kiss.

Sarah’s world turns upside down as she struggles with her unexpected attraction to Ethan and the guilt of betraying her husband’s memory. But when blue roses and disturbing notes start appearing on her doorstep, she has no choice but to lean on Ethan as he fights to save her from a stalker that won’t stop until he has what he prizes most.

"This story, although starting sad with Jake's death, goes zero to sixty from there. A creepy, insane , psycho thrown in with HOT manly men always make for an awesome ride."
- Inside BJ's Head


Book Three

Hailey’s Truth, the story of Hailey and Austin. (4.4 Stars!)

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Hailey Roberts has never had it easy. Despite the scars of a tragic childhood, she’s made a life for herself. As a part-time student and loving nanny, she yearns for a family of her own and reluctant Austin Casey, Ethan Cooke Security’s best close protection agent.

Hailey’s past comes back to haunt her when her long lost brother tracks her down, bringing his dangerous secrets with him. At an emotional crossroads, Hailey accepts a humanitarian opportunity that throws her together with Austin, taking her hundreds of miles from her troubles, or so she thinks.

What starts out as a dream come true quickly becomes a nightmare as violence erupts on the island of Cozumel. Young women are disappearing, community members are dying—and the carnage links back to her brother.

As Austin struggles to keep Hailey’s past from destroying her future, he’s forced to make a decision that could turn her against him, or worse cost them both their lives.

"WOW. My head is in a whirl from this one. From the high intensity of Suspense, down to the oh-so yummy Romance, by far, Hailey and Austin have the hottest freaking scenes of the three books! ~ It's so good... or I'm so bad because--I hate to admit it--I reread the hotter than Hades scenes! I could read the entire novel again, and that's rare for me." 
- Hammy 


Book Four

Forever Alexa, the story of Alexa and Jackson. (4.4 Stars!)

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First grade teacher and single mother Alexa Harris is no stranger to struggle, but for once, things are looking up. The school year is over and the lazy days of summer are here. Mini-vacations and relaxing twilight barbeques are on the horizon until Alexa’s free-spirited younger sister vanishes.

Ransom calls and death threats force Alexa and her young daughter to flee their quiet home in Maryland. With nowhere else to turn, Alexa seeks the help of Jackson Matthews, Ethan Cooke Security’s Risk Assessment Specialist and the man who broke her heart.

With few leads to follow and Abby’s case going cold, Alexa must confess a shocking secret if she and Jackson have any hope of saving her sister from a hell neither could have imagined.

"FOREVER ALEXA is a book that is impossible to put down. I loved the first three books in this series, Morgan's Hunter, Falling for Sarah and Hailey's Truth, but FOREVER ALEXA is far and above my favorite in the series. That being said, I not only recommend but encourage readers of romantic suspense to give Ms. Beauman's books a try.....you will not be disappointed!!!"
​- NicoleMD


Book Five

Waiting For Wren, the story of Wren and Tucker. (4.6 Stars!)

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Wren Cooke has everything she’s ever wanted—a thriving career as one of LA’s top interior designers and a home she loves. Business trips, mockups, and her demanding clientele keep her busy, almost too busy to notice Ethan Cooke Security’s gorgeous Close Protection Agent, Tucker Campbell.

Jaded by love and relationships in general, Wren wants nothing to do with the hazel-eyed stunner and his heart-stopping grins, but Tucker is always in her way. When Wren suddenly finds herself bombarded by a mysterious man’s unwanted affections, she’s forced to turn to Tucker for help.

As Wren’s case turns from disturbing to deadly, Tucker whisks her away to his mountain home in Utah. Haunted by memories and long-ago tragedies, Tucker soon realizes his past and Wren’s present are colliding. With a killer on the loose and time running out, Tucker must discover a madman’s motives before Wren becomes his next victim.

“I loved the book, the chemistry between all the players, always love it when a man knows what he wants and goes about getting it. Of course I did cry some tears and my spine tingled not just the suspense but the intimate times Tucker and Wren spent together and not just between the sheets.”
- Seawitch Reviews


Book Six

Justice For Abby, the story of Abigail and Jerrod. (4.6 Stars / Award Winner!)

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Fashion designer Abigail Harris has been rescued, but her nightmare is far from over. Determined to put her harrowing ordeal behind her and move on, she struggles to pick up the pieces of her life while eluding the men who want her dead.

The Mid-Atlantic Sex Ring is in ruins after Abby’s interviews with the police. The organization is eager to exact their revenge before her testimony dismantles the multi-million dollar operation for good.

Abby’s safety rests in the hands of former US Marshal, Jerrod Quinn. Serious-minded and obsessed with protocol, Ethan Cooke Security’s newest agent finds himself dealing with more than he bargains for when he agrees to take on his beautiful, free-spirited client.

As the trial date nears, Abby’s case takes a dangerous turn. Abby and Jerrod soon discover themselves in a situation neither of them expect while Jerrod fights to stop the ring from silencing Abby once and for all.

“I really thought this would be a routine bodyguard/subject book, boy was I wrong. Cate Beauman's characters popped! By the end of this book (which I read in one sitting) I was exhausted but replete… From paragraph to paragraph this story shifts and changes. The betrayals and surprises come at the reader at a furious pace. And while this story revolves around a very dark occurrence, there are enough moments that will make you smile, chuckle, snort and go "awwwww."

- Sebella Blue


Book Seven


Saving Sophie, the story of Sophie and Stone. (4.7 Stars / Award Winner!)

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Jewelry designer Sophie Burke has fled Maine for the anonymity of the big city. She’s starting over with a job she tolerates and a grungy motel room she calls home on the wrong side of town, but anything is better than the nightmare she left behind.

Stone McCabe is Ethan Cooke Security’s brooding bad boy more interested in keeping to himself than anything else—until the gorgeous blond with haunted violet eyes catches his attention late one rainy night.

Stone reluctantly gives Sophie a hand only to quickly realize that the shy beauty with the soft voice and pretty smile has something to hide. Tangled up in her secrets, Stone offers Sophie a solution that has the potential to free her from her problems once and for all—or jeopardize both of their lives.

Saving Sophie is truly a beautiful story... Cate has woven a meaningful story about a courageous woman who overcomes domestic violence to build a life for herself…The author beautifully shows the readers the struggles and fears that Sophie goes through to break free. There is pain in sorrow and beauty in the tears. The heroine is broken and whole. She survives to show us that if you have the courage and the will you can overcome all odds... Saving Sophie is about abuse, courage, romance, honor and so much more.”
Book Eight

Reagan’s Redemption, the story of Reagan and Shane. (4.5 Stars / Award Winner!)

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Doctor Reagan Rosner loves her fast-paced life of practicing medicine in New York City's busiest trauma center. Kind and confident, she's taking her profession by storm--until a young girl's accidental death leaves her shaken to her core. With her life a mess and her future uncertain, Reagan accepts a position as Head Physician for The Appalachia Project, an outreach program working with some of America's poorest citizens.

Shane Harper, Ethan Cooke Security's newest team member, has been assigned a three-month stint deep in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, and he's not too happy about it. Guarding a pill safe in the middle of nowhere is boring as hell, but when he gets a look at his new roommate, the gorgeous Doctor Rosner, things start looking up.

Shane and Reagan encounter more than a few mishaps as they struggle to gain the trust of a reluctant community. They're just starting to make headway when a man's routine checkup exposes troubling secrets the town will do anything to keep hidden--even if that means murder.

“Cate Beauman's eagerly anticipated book Reagan's Redemption the 8th book in her Bodyguards of La series did not disappoint! I have not found a book in a long time that I just could not put down. I literally stayed up until 2am reading. This book had it all, suspense, great hero, heroine, mystery, and romance. I believe Cate definitely knocked this one out of the part.”
​- Jeannie K


Book Nine

Answers For Julie, the story of Julie and Chase. (4.6 Stars! / Award Winner)

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Julie Keller relishes the simple things: hot chocolate on winter nights, good friends she calls her family, and her laid-back career as a massage therapist and yoga instructor. Julie is content with her life until Chase Rider returns to Bakersfield.

Bodyguard Chase Rider isn’t thrilled to be back in the town where he spent his childhood summers. His beloved grandmother passed away, leaving him a house in need of major repairs. With a three-week timetable and a lot to do, he doesn’t have time for distractions. Then he bumps into Julie, the one woman he hoped never to see again. Chase tries to pretend Julie doesn’t exist, but ten years hasn’t diminished his attraction to the hazel-eyed stunner.

When a stranger grabs Julie’s arm at the grocery store—a woman who insists Julie’s life isn’t what it seems, Chase can’t help but get involved. Julie and Chase dig into a twenty-five-year-old mystery, unearthing more questions than answers. But the past is closer than they realize, and the consequences of the truth have the potential to be deadly.

“This series just gets better and better! I loved Answers for Julie - as with the whole series, it's a careful balance between suspense and romance, the characters are really well developed, and the plot moved at just the right pace with a fair number of surprises thrown in!”
- LCF


Book Ten

Finding Lyla, the story of Lyla and Collin. (4.7 Stars!)

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Principal Dancer Lyla Markovik-Avery is always on the go. Grueling practices and endless performances rule her busy days--and things are about to get more hectic. Russia is rolling out the red carpet for their beloved star, despite the string of violent terrorist attacks that have rocked the nation.

Bodyguard Collin Michaels' life is falling apart. His long-time relationship recently ended. He's trying to start over, but that's easier said than done. Luckily, Collin has a new assignment on the horizon: keeping a beautiful ballerina safe for the next three weeks.

Collin finds comfort in Lyla's easy friendship, but that all changes after a night out on the town. Simple feelings become complicated--something Collin can't afford, especially when tragedy strikes and Collin realizes Lyla's caught in the middle of a dangerous plot for revenge.

Collin and Lyla are forced to flee. They need to reach the border before it's too late, but the odds are stacked against them in a country that wants them dead. With time running out, Collin formulates a risky plan that might be their only chance of making it out alive.

“In reading the synopsis, I wasn't sure how I would like this although I love all of Cate's books. Boy, was this a surprise for me. This book is wonderfully written with so many twists and turns, it was hard to put down. Such a beautiful love story with action, suspense, drama, and a bit of sadness too. I loved Lyla and felt sad because of how she felt she had to live her life. I also loved Collin and how he recognized the journey that Lyla needed to take. Of course, being a man, he is on his own journey of self realization as well. Wonderful story that I KNOW I will be reading again.”
- Ree Ree

Meet the Author:



International bestselling author Cate Beauman is known for her full-length, action-packed romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Her novels have been nominated for the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, National Indie Excellence Award, Golden Quill Award, Writers Touch Award, and have been named Readers Favorite Five Star books. In 2015, JUSTICE FOR ABBY was selected as the Readers' Favorite International Book Award Gold Medalist, while SAVING SOPHIE took the Silver Medal. SAVING SOPHIE was also selected as the 2015 Readers Crown Award winner for Romantic Suspense and FALLING FOR SARAH received the silver medal for the 2014 Readers' Favorite Awards.

Cate makes her home in North Carolina with her husband, two boys, and their St. Bernards, Bear and Jack. Currently Cate is working on her twelfth full length novel.​


Connect with Cate: 




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Kindle readers! Please go to Cate's page on Amazon and click on the yellow Follow button to be notified when new books are available!

Amazon Author Page (buy links for all eleven books)
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Ends June 24


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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Counted with the Stars (Out from Egypt Book 1) by Connilyn Cossette


For a debut novel and the first in a Biblical fiction series, this was amazing in its portrayal of the Exodus account with all the exotic rich details of Egypt.

Book Details:

Title: Counted with the Stars (Out from Egypt Book 1) by Connilyn Cossette
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Category: Adult Fiction,  352 pages
ISBN: 978-0764214370
Published: April 5, 2016
Content Rating: PG

Book Description:

A Story of Love, Desperation, and Hope During a Great Biblical Epoch

Sold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation. When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all.

To save her older brother and escape the bonds of slavery, Kiya flees with the Hebrews during the Great Exodus. She finds herself utterly dependent on a fearsome God she's only just beginning to learn about, and in love with a man who despises her people. With everything she's ever known swept away, will Kiya turn back toward Egypt or surrender her life and her future to Yahweh?

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My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

I usually don't read novels based on Biblical people or accounts because in the past I've been disappointed with their portrayal or inaccuracy. But for some reason I was intrigued by the book description of Counted with the Stars which tells the story of Kiya, an Egyptian woman sold into slavery who experiences first-hand the plaques of Egypt, and later chooses to flee with the Hebrews in the wilderness.

I was so impressed with this story! First and foremost, the author brings Egypt to life, from the people and their culture to their way of living and thinking. Through Kiya's story, she also makes us live the traumatic and devastating plagues that Jehovah God brings on the Egyptians, one for each of their ten gods, proving them to be useless and inferior to Him. Secondly, the author accurately depicts the Hebrews using God's name Yahweh (Jehovah is the English derivative of this name as Jesus is for Yeshua).

I liked that the account was told through the eyes of a Gentile rather than a Hebrew. Kiya is a fully-fleshed out character, and this is her story. She experiences hardship having gone from a life of luxury to one of slavery and hard work. Her change in faith is realistically portrayed and does not happen suddenly, which is one of my pet peeves in Christian fiction.

For a debut novel and the first in a Biblical fiction series, this was amazing in its portrayal of the Exodus account with all the exotic rich details of Egypt. There are two other books in this Out from Egypt series that have been published, with the third book just released earlier this month. I look forward to reading both. Counted With the Stars will be counted as one of my favorite books this year! If you love Biblical fiction, don't miss this one.

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.


About the Author


Connilyn Cossette is a homeschooling mother of two with a passion for writing stories of timeless grace. She hopes to draw readers into a personal encounter with the rich ancient world of the Bible and spark curiosity that will lead to digging deeper into the truth of the Word. Her novel Counted With the Stars won the 2013 Frasier Contest and was a semi-finalist in the 2013 ACFW Genesis Contest. She lives near Dallas, Texas. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Children's Books: Love in Relationships

During the first week of May it was Children's Book Week where I features some kidlit. I wanted to highlight another three beautiful books, this time with the theme of relationships. My review follows each book's description.




Book Details:

XO, OX: A Love Story by Adam Rex
Illustrated by: Scott Campbell
Published: Jan 3, 2017
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Hardcover picture book: 40 pages
For children ages 4-8
Content rating: G

Book Description:

Dear Gazelle,

For some time now I have wanted to write a letter to say how much I admire you. You are so graceful and fine. Even when you are running from tigers you are like a ballerina who is running away from tigers.

I think that what I'm trying to say is that I love you.

XO,
OX


And so begins an epic, if initially unrequited, love affair between a graceful gazelle and a clumsy, hapless ox. Romance will never be the same.

Adam Rex's hilarious, sweet, and at times heartbreaking letters between a hopelessly romantic ox and a conceited, beautiful gazelle are paired perfectly with Scott Campbell's joyful illustrations to bring you a romance for the ages.


Buy the Book:




My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

I was so touched by this book. Ox is in love with Gazelle and so he writes her love letters. Gazelle's life is filled with admirers and she is conceited and unkind in her replies to Ox, brushing him off. However, Ox is undeterred and filled with so much optimism. He replies to her rudeness with honest, kind and guileless statements that it finally cracks her cold and selfish ego. Honestly, this book really made me think, and Ox won me over.

The watercolor and colored pencil illustrations are charming, suited for a book with a classical, old-fashioned feel. Ox looks like a farmer with his overalls and Gazelle looks like a graceful, 1920s movie star. I read through this book several times and even showed my husband who also thought it charming.

I think young readers will enjoy this story told exclusively through letters about Ox who chose to see the good in Gazelle and who, despite her faults, loved her. When I read some of the reviews on Goodreads I was surprised to see that readers either loved it or hated it, viewing it more as a stalker story, which, again surprised me. I'm one of those who loved it. It seems to be controversial, but I guess it all depends on how you view it.




About the Author and Illustrator:

Adam Rex has written several books for young readers including the New York Times–bestselling Frankenstein makes a Sandwich and The True Meaning of Smekday. His picture book School's First Day of School earned seven starred reviews and was a New York Times Bestseller. He lives now with his wife and son in Tucson.

Scott Campbell is a maker of paintings, illustrations, comics, kid's books, and video games. He studied illustration at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, focusing on comic and children’s book illustration. He is the author/illustrator of Hug Machine. XO, OX is Scott's first book for Roaring Brook Press.


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Book Details:

Hug it Out by Louis Thomas
Published: Jan 3, 2017
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hardcover picture book: 40 pages
For children ages 3-6
Content rating: G

Book Description:

A fresh, funny take on sibling rivalry and conflict resolution, as two sparring siblings are forced to "hug it out."

Mom has had enough of Woody and Annie's incessant fighting. When her pleas for sharing and apologizing are ignored, she demands they "hug it out." At first, the warring siblings are confused. Hugging? But after a long afternoon of forced embraces, the brother and sister decide to call a truce to avoid yet another icky hug. However it doesn't take long for them to miss that newfound closeness. And soon they're looking for something to fight about so they can hug it out once more!

Adults will delight in a new solution to conflict, while kids will enjoy yelling "HUG IT OUT!" at each familiar situation. With subversive humor and smart, eye-catching illustrations, Louis Thomas's debut is a cheeky tribute to sibling rivalry and (cuddly) compromise.


Buy the Book:



My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Woody and Annie are siblings (they could pass for twins, actually) who play together. But as is common among young children, they end up fighting. Their exasperated mother finally tells them to "hug it out" every time they fight. After doing this time after time, they finally settle down, but the hugging has grown on them and they realize they like it.

This was a cute and funny take on sibling rivalry and how to resolve conflict. I can see it being a solution for young children 3-5 who readily hug when asked to say sorry. This is an unusual punishment which I think will delight young children and make them laugh. The author who is also the illustrator, uses simple but effective drawings and watercolor illustrations that emphasizes facial expressions. I especially liked the cat's facial expressions. He is in almost all the scenes and looks like his name could be Figaro.

This is a great book for children who have siblings or for a teacher / educator to read to her preschoolers. Any child would be able to relate and the message that conflicts are resolved together is a good one.




About the Author:

Louis Thomas graduated from Gobelins, Paris, and Calarts, Los Angeles, in 2012. He then worked full-time in Californian animation studios before returning to France. Louis currently lives and works with his cat, Pipo, in his art studio, which can be found between the Pantheon and the Luxembourg Gardens of Paris, France.


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Illustrated by Eda Kaban
Published: February 28, 2017
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hardcover picture book: 32 pages
For children ages 2-6
Content rating: G

Book Description:

Being a big brother is a BIG job.
There’s lots to show your little brother . . .
Trains . . .
Planes . . .
How to be a dinosaur.

There are games to play and adventures to be had. And if trouble comes, it’s big brother to the rescue because there’s no better friend than a brother.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

This is the perfect book for a boy who becomes a big brother. With few words it conveys how proud the boy is to have a baby brother who will look up to him, learn from him and play with him. There is a scene where the boy sees himself as the superhero coming to the rescue when his baby brother is crying and needs his pacifier. And another where he shows affection by kissing his brother's toesies.

Truly, this is a charming and heartwarming book. It's ideal when parents want to prepare their child for the birth of another one. It can also be good for those children who are jealous of the extra attention given to the new baby. It empowers a big brother and helps him to establish his role and to ease the big change of another child in the family.

The illustrations are charming and make good use of earth-tone colors. They suit the theme of the book.



About the Author:

Alexandra Penfold is the author of Eat, Sleep, Poop!, illustrated by Jane Massey, and the co-author of New York à la Cart: Recipes & Stories from the Big Apple’s Best Food Trucks. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and sons.

Eda Kaban is an illustrator of children’s books, including Old MacDonald Had a Truck written by Steve Goetz. Her work can be seen in print and galleries from San Francisco to New York. She was born and raised in Turkey and currently lives in San Francisco, California, with her husband.


Disclosure: Thanks to Raincoast Books for sending me these book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Waves of Murder: A Fiona Quinn Mystery by C.S. McDonald (Book Spotlight and Giveaway!)


Today I'm kicking off the tour for C.S. McDonald as she tours the third book in her Fiona Quinn Mysteries. These are cozy stand alone YA mystery novels that are clean and fun. Waves of Murder is perfect for summer reading. I just love that fresh cover. In this third instalment you can join Fiona and the gang for a hot whodunit on the sandy beaches of Presque Isle, Pennsylvania!

Please help me welcome C.S. McDonald. You can read my interview with her below. Then continue scrolling so that you can enter the giveaway for the opportunity to win a signed copy!

Book Details:

Book Title: Waves of Murder: A Fiona Quinn Mystery
Author: C.S. McDonald
​Category: YA Fiction, 190 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: McWriter Books
Release date: April 11, 2017
Tour dates: May 15 to 26, 2017
Content Rating: G (The Fiona Quinn Mysteries are for everyone--adults love the books and they are appropriate for teens and tweens too!)

Book Description:

School’s out for the summer!

Kindergarten teacher, Fiona Quinn is looking forward to spending some quality time in her yard and with her boyfriend, Detective Nathan Landry. However, Fiona’s plans get squelched when her mother volunteers her to edit a manuscript for famous romance author, Wyla Parkes.

What’s so bad about that? The author insists Fiona must work on the manuscript at her beach cottage on Presque Isle--three hours away from her yard and Nathan. Spending six weeks in an adorable cottage on a private beach doesn’t really seem all that bad until people start turning up dead—beginning with the author! Fiona’s summer of sun and sand is instantly transformed into a murder investigation. Can Fiona and Nathan crack the case or will the murderer get away on a wave of deceit?

Join Fiona and the gang for a hot whodunit on the sandy beaches of Presque Isle, Pennsylvania!

Buy the Book: 


My Interview with C.S. McDonald

LCR: Welcome to Library of Clean Reads, C.S. You’re well known for your romantic suspense novels. What made you venture into the YA cozy mystery genre?

C.S.: I love writing romantic suspense, and I still do. That said, I started writing children’s books for my grandchildren, and they adored them. However, grandchildren have a tendency to get older, and when my oldest granddaughter turned ten, she began to ask, when can I start reading your other books? Yikes! That’s what spurred me to start writing the Fiona Quinn Mysteries. I decided to write a series that anyone, everyone could read. I wanted to write something that a mom could enjoy, and then hand it off to her teen daughter without worrying about the content, and then the teen could give it to her tween sister for her to enjoy as well. I think I’ve accomplished that goal with Fiona Quinn—everyone seems to love her, and the quirky Detective Landry too!

LCR: You also write books for children. Can you tell us more about George the Pony books?

C.S.: *giggle* Believe it or not, George is actually a real pony! He was delivered to our farm about three years ago. He and I did not get along—at all. He was as ornery as the day is long, and when he was let out to pasture with my husband’s Thoroughbreds, he would bully them mercilessly! I watched from the deck and I thought, hey, there’s a story here! I set out to write George the Boss. Well, not only did my grandchildren love the books but so did other children, and so I wrote George Goes to Camp—a lesson in diversity, and George Turns Green—a lesson in handling one’s jealousy. The books have been very popular at author events.

LCR: You tend to write books in a series. Did you do this intentionally? Or did it just turn out that way?

C.S.: I’m a creature of habit. And I like to read series’. I like to keep track of characters, and I believe a lot of readers do as well. There is a certain amount of comfort found in becoming familiar with characters as a writer and as a reader. I may write a single book someday—we’ll see.

LCR: What is the hardest part about writing a series? The easiest?

C.S. I think the hardest part of writing a series is making sure that each book has a completely different story line. One doesn’t want their readers to become bored with a series because the books are basically the same. While characters have personalities, and the personality should carry throughout the series, you need to be sure the stories differ and each story is intriguing. As far as what is easy, I’m not sure there is anything easy about writing, but as I said earlier, there is comfort in working with familiar characters.

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

C.S. While I’ve spent a lot of time watching Downton Abbey and Victoria (a series on PBS about the life of young Queen Victoria) I know, for certain, that I would not like to travel back into those times—they were rough! I think I’d like to return to my childhood and revisit places we used to go and things we used to do. Are there things I would do differently? Absolutely! That said, I was a child during the 60’s—and they were truly wonderful years.

LCR: Any advice for first-time authors?
C.S.: Make sure you have a good editor. Believe me, good editors are very hard to find. Do not turn in a book that has been edited by your mom or your best friend, or worse, do not turn in a book that has not been through an editing process. That said, the fact is that even after using an editor mistakes happen—it’s frustrating to say the least. Currently, I have been using an editor AND a proofreader. I hope Waves of Murder is flawless!

LCR: Thanks C.S.!

Meet the Author: 



For twenty-six years C.S. McDonald’s life whirled around a song and a dance. She was a professional dancer and choreographer. During that time she choreographed many musicals and an opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards. In 2011 she retired from her dance career to write. Under her real name, Cindy McDonald, she writes murder-suspense and romantic suspense novels. In 2014 she added the pen name, C.S. McDonald, to write children’s books for her grandchildren. Now she adds the Fiona Quinn Mysteries to that expansion. She decided to write the cozy mystery series for her young granddaughters, and has found that so many adults love them too.

Ms. McDonald resides on her Thoroughbred farm known as Fly by Night Stables near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband, Bill, and her poorly behaved Cocker Spaniel, Allister.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook


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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday Post, Mailbox Monday and It's Monday What Are You Reading? May 15 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.


I'm reading books faster than I can review and post about them. I'm actually binge reading. Late spring does that to me. I need some escapism and books are great for that. 

Flooding continues to be a problem in Montreal. Our bike paths along the rivers in some areas are closed off because the river waters have overflowed onto them and homes on the Western tip of the island and surrounding areas are so flooded that in the town of Rigaud the mayor has declared a state of emergency and ordered residents to leave their homes. It doesn't help that it keeps raining! So sad. Hope you are all having a good Sunday. 


Mailbox Monday

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.


Three books for review in my mailbox:


These books are on tour with iRead Book Tours from May 22 to July 14.


This neat little book is on tour with iRead Book Tours from June 5 to 16.


Found this one free on Kindle.





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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.



Seeing Double: An Elisabeth Reinhardt Thriller by Nancy J Alexander (Book Spotlight and Giveaway!)


With Ballet in My Soul: Adventures of a Globetrotting Impresario by Eva Maze (Review)



Reading Now:




Stop by and enter my giveaways!

Also posted on the right sidebar.

Hope you all have a great reading week.

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Wrote a Book Set in Italy?

 
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