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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Cadence of Gypsies by Barbara Casey

Their search will take them into the mystical world of gypsy tradition and magic, more exciting and dangerous than any of them could have imagined.

Book Details:

Book Title: The Cadence of Gypsies by Barbara Casey
Category: YA fiction, 272 pages
Genre: Literary/Mystery
Publisher: Gauthier Publications/Hungry Goat Press
Release date: March 2011 (Hardcopy); April 2015 (e-Book)
​Content Rating: PG-13 (A few expletives, mild sexual innuendo)

Book Description:

On her 18th birthday Carolina Lovel learned that she was adopted and was given a letter written by her birth mother in an unknown language. After years of research she travels to Italy on a mission to find the truth about her past. Carolina is accompanied by three extremely gifted but mischievous students the FIGs from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. In an effort to help their favorite teacher, the FIGs will have to use their special abilities to decipher the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, and the one thing that is strangely similar to what Carolina was given. Their search will take them into the mystical world of gypsy tradition and magic, more exciting and dangerous than any of them could have imagined.

Book Review
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Right from the first pages we are introduced into the life of gypsies. They are a mysterious wandering people who practice magic and do not mix in with society. I was quickly drawn to Lyuba, the choovihni, wisewoman whose position was exalted and envied among the gypsy women. She had suffered a great loss in her life.

The book alternates between two characters and their stories, that of Lyuba in Italy and Carolina in the US, a young woman who teaches at the Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. Carolina was told that she was adopted and she is on a quest to find her birth parents and to decipher the meaning of the Voynich Manuscript, which is strangely similar to the letter written in an unknown language that she was given by her birth mother.

Carolina is responsible for three particular students at the Academy. They are Dara, Mackenzie and Jennifer who call themselves Females of Intellectual Geniuses or FIGs. These girls are mischievous, pulling various ingenious pranks on the headmaster who is thrilled when Carolina decides to take them on her trip to Italy to help her in her quest.

The bond of friendship these three students have with each other and with Carolina is endearing. I was intrigued with how the author had the young girls use their superior intellectual skills in the fields of language, math and music to help Carolina decipher the manuscript by studying other books in the Villa Mondragone's library. I believe I visited this impressive villa as a young woman myself when I visited Rome in 1987.

This book is filled with mystery, gypsy tradition, adventure and humor (the FIGs are a riot!) and I enjoyed it. The story flowed well and I particularly liked Lyuba's story and her conflict with the son of the Gypsy King who was disrespectful and caused serious trouble in the gypsy camp with repercussions that deeply affected Lyuba.

The Cadence of Gypsies is the first book in the F.I.G. Mystery Series. The second book in the series The Wish Rider will be published soon. I look forward to reading the second instalment.

To read more reviews, please visit Barbara Casey's page on Italy Book Tours.

Buy the Book: 

Meet the Author: 

​Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, established in 1995, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan.

In 2014 Barbara became a partner in Strategic Media Books Publishing, an independent publishing house that specializes in true crime and other cutting-edge adult nonfiction.

​Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix, Fitz, a miniature dachshund, and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.

​Connect with the author: Website

Enter the Giveaway!


Win 1 of 5 print / 1 of 5 ebooks of The Cadence of Gypsies (international)
One winner will also receive a $25 Amazon gift card

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Kathryn Kelly: The Moll Behind "Machine Gun" Kelly by Barbara Casey (Book spotlight and Giveaway)

Kathryn Kelly: The Moll Behind "Machine Gun" Kelly is the first book ever written about a woman who chose to follow a life of crime during the Prohibition era.

Book Details:

Book Title:  KATHRYN KELLY: The Moll Behind "Machine Gun" Kelly by Barbara Casey
Category:  Adult non-fiction, 196 pages
Genre:  Biography / true crime
Publisher:  Strategic Media Books
Release date:  February 2016
Content Rating:  PG-13 (There are some expletives and descriptions of crimes, although nothing gory or too graphic)

Book Description:  

Kathryn Kelly: The Moll Behind "Machine Gun" Kelly is a biography of the woman who made a career of crime. With a lust for danger, she masterminded the crimes that took her and her husband, and others who included her own mother and stepfather, on a spree across Minnesota, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Texas. Starting with smaller crimes that included bootlegging, smuggling liquor onto an Oklahoma Indian reservation, and other petty crimes, she encouraged her husband, George Barnes aka George Kelly, toward a life of more serious criminal activity that eventually escalated into bank robberies, kidnapping and extortion.

Many believe that it was Kathryn, after giving him a machine gun, who developed George's feared persona and the name of Machine Gun Kelly. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was even convinced that the two were somehow connected in the Lindbergh kidnapping. Kathryn and Machine Gun Kelly were eventually captured after kidnapping Charles Urschel, a wealthy Oklahoma City oilman, and collecting a $200,000 ransom the largest ransom ever paid at that time.

​Eventually, the two were captured in Memphis, where Kelly had grown up as a boy. During their trial in Oklahoma City, movie cameras were allowed into the courtroom for the first time as curious spectators across the nation watched. Kathryn, while claiming to be an innocent victim in a bad marriage, remained unrepentant, smiling and primping for the cameras, and writing threatening letters to the judge and attorneys assigned to the case as well as her victims.

Convicted in 1933, Kathryn served twenty-five years of her life sentence at FPC Alderson, West Virginia, when in 1958 she was finally released into obscurity. Although much has been written about Machine Gun Kelly, there is very little known about Kathryn.

Through narrative, FBI files, rare quotes from George Kelly's son and other relatives and associates, extensive research, and several photographs, Kathryn Kelly ¬The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly is the first book ever written about a woman who chose to follow a life of crime during the Prohibition era.

Buy the book:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble

Meet the author:  

Barbara Casey is a partner in Strategic Media Books, and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. She is also a manuscript consultant and the author of numerous articles, poems, and short stories.

Her award-winning novels have received national recognition, including the Independent Publishers Book Award. Her novel, The House of Kane, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination, and The Gospel According to Prissy, also a contemporary adult novel received several awards including the prestigious IPPY Award for Best Regional Fiction. Her most recent young adult novel, The Cadence of Gypsies, received the Independent Publishers Living Now Award and was reviewed by the Smithsonian for its list of Best Books.

Ms. Casey makes her home on the top of a mountain in northwest Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix, Fitz, a miniature dachshund, and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.

Connect with the author:   Website

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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Mailbox Monday and It's Monday, What Are You Reading? May 2 Edition

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia who now blogs at To Be Continued. It 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.

It's Children's Book Week this week. I've read several good children's books with my son and will post reviews throughout the month. On another note, I got a call from Book Expo America asking if I was attending. I've decided not to. Good news: BEA is back in NY next year! At least that is what they told me. 

Got some goodies in my mailbox in the last 2 weeks:

The Berlin Package by Peter Riva

Film producer Pero Baltazar thought he was taking a Berlin filming assignment. He needed the work, needed to get back in the saddle after fighting off a life-threatening experience in East Africa—alShabaab had attacked his crew, intent on a much larger terrorist attack. Suddenly he finds himself under orders from his part-time employers at the State Department and the CIA when he is handed a mysterious package. It’s an assignment he doesn't want. The problem is, it’s a job contracted by mysterious patrons who are prepared to kill him if he doesn't deliver.

Pero—now in far too deep—turns to friends, old and new, to help him unravel the mystery of the package, uncover connections to Nazi concentration camp gold recently sold by the US Treasury, and thwart the ex–Stasi chief, now head of a powerful banking group.

In this fast-paced sequel to Murder on Safari, Pero calls on Mbuno, his friend and East African safari guide, to anticipate the moves of his enemies as if they were animals—dangerous vermin—who have kidnapped both the film star and director. Mbuno’s tracking skills may keep them from getting killed—provided Pero can rope in more help and keep the CIA at bay.

Exhilarating and expertly crafted, The Berlin Package (Yucca Publishing; April 2016) is a gripping, page-turning thriller set in post–German reunification Europe.

Raising Kids That Succeed by Dr. Lynn A. Wicker

Do you find yourself feeling confused and frustrated as you struggle to parent your child? You have tried different parenting techniques, yet the results are the same - not working! So, why read another book about parenting? Because this is NOT just another book about parenting!

"Raising Kids That Succeed" provides a new way to see yourself as a parent, by first seeing yourself as a person. It focuses on who you are as an individual before you ever arrive at the impact you hope to have on your children. Success is guaranteed, if you simply open your mind and heart as you read this book. You will learn how to stop looking for "fixes" for your kids and come into an awareness of your own beliefs.

As your own life improves, the influence and impact on your children will immediately become apparent!

Date Like a Girl, Marry Like a Woman by Jessica R. Bunevacz

Date Like a Girl, Marry Like a Woman: The Polished Woman's Guide to Love, Romance, and Sex will help you navigate how to have a good time with "Mr. Right Now" and how to hold onto "Mr. Right" once you find him. Providing a mix easy to follow rules, and anecdotes showcasing how they worked (and in some cases what happened when they were ignored), Jessica Bunevacz is the best friend you'll wish you had all along and the one whose advice you'll go back to again and again.

Unlike “The Rules”, its successors, or similar books offering guidance on how to snag a man, this book isn't about playing hard to get, instead it's about playing to win. And the only way that you can truly to that is when you acknowledge yourself as the MVP. This is why one of the first rules in Date Like a Girl, Marry Like a Woman: The Polished Woman's Guide to Love, Romance, and Sex is about shedding your insecurities, and why other rules offer insight on looking, feeling, and being your best, with an emphasis on having your own life. Additionally, while other guides stop when you get to a marriage proposal, this is the book you'll come back to after you say “I do”. Understanding that happily ever after may be a good way to end a movie, but isn't a good way to start a marriage there are real tips about everything from friendship to sex to finances with both humor and heart.

Ultimately Date Like a Girl, Marry Like a Woman: The Polished Woman's Guide to Love, Romance, and Sex is a work that is meant to transcend beyond the pages as it's lessons are applied in daily life. It never asks a woman to shy away from her impulses or to hide who she is or what she wants, and instead celebrates her independence and sensuality while showing her ways that she can make her romantic life more fulfilling.

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.

Posts From Last Week:

Up Next:

Stop by and enter my giveaways!

Also posted on the right sidebar.

Hope you all have a great reading week.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The War of Words by Amy Neftzger (Review and Giveaway!)

Book Details:
Book Title: The War of Words by Amy Neftzger
Category: YA fiction, 330 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Fields of Gold Publishing, Inc.
Release date: March 3, 2016
Content Rating: PG (No cursing, but some violence (a few battle scenes)

Book Description:

Sometimes there's no better way to understand reality than through fantasy, and the best way to find truth may be in a book - if you can find the right one.

Battles against darkness, a quest for truth, and a search for the book that no one can read are all part of the fantasy adventure in The War of Words. As an evil sorcerer wages war by using mysterious shadows and seeks to gain control by confusing the residents as to what's real and what isn't, the fate of the kingdom rests in the hands of Kelsey and Nicholas.

As the youngest officer in the king's army, Kelsey fights the evil sorcerer s shadows on the battlefield as she explores the kingdom searching for the key to winning the war. Nicholas, a young sorcerer in training who is mastering his craft, discovers how the right words can change the course of the future.

Explore an enchanted maze, uncover the power of words, and learn about friendship in this whimsical tale.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

As a book lover and a writer, I love words. I love discovering new words and I love the way different words can convey different things in different languages too. So I was eager to read the fantasy adventure of a quest for truth and a search for the book that no one can read. The book cover portrays a whimsical scene and in several ways it was, with an interesting cast of characters that propelled the story forward.

Kelsey and Nicholas are the main characters in the story but they work together from different scenes with Kelsey a soldier fighting the shadows in the enchanted forest and Nicholas learning magical elements at the castle. Kelsey was my favorite character for she is strong, courageous and smart, but she is also vulnerable to her own self-doubts. She teams up with Eric and her friends from past adventures to try to stop the spell of the sorcerer that jumbles words and communication so that people misunderstand each other.

This is a well-written middle-grade novel that is sure to please fans of the genre. It is good versus evil with plenty of lessons learned along the way. The battle scenes occur with shadows who are not humans and the greatest battle of all with the sorcerer taught the best lesson of all, that words can be used as a weapon and sometimes it is better to be silent. Brilliant!

There were comical scenes and Newton, the gargoyle eating machine was cute and added an element of fun to the story. There were gems of truth scattered throughout the novel that I appreciated, such as this interchange:

"I love the optimism on the shores of youth, where time hasn't yet eroded faith," Moss said with a sigh.
"Time is the wave upon the shore. It takes some things away, but it brings other things," Nicholas replied.

This is the third book in The Kingdom Wars series, and although it can be read as a stand-alone novel, it would be better for the reader to begin with the first book The Orphanage of Miracles, where we are first introduced to the characters. The second book is The Orchard of Hope. These are classic tales much like that of C.S Lewis. 

Amy Neftzger is a talented writer and master storyteller, filling her stories with adventure, magic, inspiration and important lessons learned in an entertaining way.

To read more reviews, please visit Amy Neftzger's page on iRead Book Tours.

​Buy the book: 

About the Author:

Amy Neftzger is the author of fiction books for both adults and children. She has also been published in business and academic journals, as well as literary publications.

A few of her favorite things include traveling, books, movies, art, the Oxford comma, and gargoyles.

Connect with the author:   Website   Twitter   Facebook

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Winemakers by Jan Moran (Book spotlight and Giveaway!)

Book Details:

Book Title: The Winemakers, A Novel of Wine and Secrets by Jan Moran
Category: Adult fiction, 368 pages
Genre: 20th Century Historical Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release date: April 5, 2016
​Content Rating: PG-13 + M (for themes of out-of-wedlock sex and childbirth. Two scenes of tasteful romantic sex (no body parts), and very mild language (no strong profanity).

Book Description:

1956: When Caterina Rosetta inherits a cottage in the countryside of Italy from a grandmother she's never known, she discovers a long-buried family secret -- a secret so devastating, it threatens the future of everything her mother has worked for.

Many years before, her mother's hard-won dreams of staking her family's claim in the vineyards of California came to fruition; but as an old murder comes to light, and Caterina uncovers a tragic secret that may destroy the man she loves, she realizes her happiness will depend on revealing the truth of her mother's buried past. 

From author Jan Moran comes The Winemakers, a sweeping, romantic novel that will hold you in its grasp until the last delicious sip. 

Buy the book: 

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ Chapters ~ Books-a-Million ~ Book Depository ~ iBooks

About the Author:

Jan Moran is a Rizzoli bestselling and award winning author. She writes historical women's fiction for St. Martin's Press (Scent of Triumph, The Winemakers), contemporary women's fiction (Flawless, Beauty Mark, Runway), and nonfiction books (Vintage Perfumes, Fabulous Fragrances). Her stories are smart and stylish, and written with emotional depth. Jan often draws on her international travel and business experiences, infusing her books with realistic details.

The Midwest Book Review and Kirkus have recommended her books, calling her heroines strong, complex, and resourceful. She likes to talk to readers at and on social media. She lives in southern California and loves lattes and iced coffee, anything chocolate, and Whole Foods Double Green smoothies to balance it all out.

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

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan (Review and Giveaway!)

In 1910 Toronto, while other bachelor girls perfect their domestic skills and find husbands, two friends perfect their sleuthing skills and find a murderer.

Book Details:

The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan
Harvest House
Published: April 2015
Trade Paperback, pages
Content Ratting: G

Book Description:

In 1910 Toronto, while other bachelor girls perfect their domestic skills and find husbands, two friends perfect their sleuthing skills and find a murderer.

Inspired by their fascination with all things Sherlock Holmes, best friends and flatmates Merinda and Jem launch a consulting detective business. The deaths of young Irish women lead Merinda and Jem deeper into the mire of the city's underbelly, where the high hopes of those dreaming to make a new life in Canada are met with prejudice and squalor.

While searching for answers, donning disguises, and sneaking around where no proper ladies would ever go, they pair with Jasper Forth, a police constable, and Ray DeLuca, a reporter in whom Jem takes a more than professional interest. Merinda could well be Toronto's premiere consulting detective, and Jem may just find a way to put her bachelor girlhood behind her forever---if they can stay alive long enough to do so.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

What a delightful book this was! Author Rachel McMillan succeeded in creating the female versions of Sherlock and Watson in Merinda and Jem, best friends who shun convention and take up sleuthing instead. 

Although this book was a light and fun read, it was witty, comical, and romantic, too. I loved the Canadian historical setting and appreciated the author shedding light on some of the prejudices against single women and immigrants in Toronto at the turn of the 20th century.

Both Merinda and Jem are strong female characters and they want a different life other than the one they are expected to live.  In their detective adventures, they pair up with two men who can appreciate their intelligence even as they admire their femininity. I cracked up during the scene when Jem first meets Ray DeLuca, an Italian immigrant. She is disguised as a man and things don't quite work out the way they were supposed to.

If you are a fan of cozy mysteries à la Sherlock Holmes, then you will love this book. Merinda is quirky, impulsive and smart, while Jem is sensible, romantic and courageous. They make a great duo as they don men's clothing, advocate women's rights and get into dangerous situations.

This is the first book in what promises to be a series with the second book titled A Lesson in Love and Murder slated to be released Sept 1, 2016. There are also two e-novellas which I plan on purchasing. I am now a fan of McMillan and her Herringford and Watts Mysteries.

To read more reviews, be sure to visit Rachel McMillan's tour page on Litfuse.

Purchase a copy:

About the Author:

Rachel McMillan is a keen history enthusiast and a lifelong bibliophile. When not writing or reading, she can most often be found drinking tea and watching British miniseries. Rachel lives in bustling Toronto, where she works in educational publishing and pursues her passion for art, literature, music, and theater.

Connect with the author:

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

Enter the Giveaway!

Meet best friends and flatmates Merinda and Jem, who launch their own Sherlock Holmes-esque consulting detective business in 1910 Toronto in Rachel McMillan’s The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder. The deaths of young Irish women lead Merinda and Jem deeper into the mire of the city’s underbelly. Merinda could well be Toronto’s premiere consulting detective, and Jem may just find a way to put her bachelor girlhood behind her forever–if they can stay alive long enough to do so.

Rachel is celebrating the release of The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder with a Murder Mystery Prize Pack giveaway (details below) and an author chat party on April 28!


One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 4/28. The winner will be announced at The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Rachel and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!


RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 28th!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

25 Literary Must-Haves for Book Lovers (Support literacy!)

25 Literary Must-Haves for Book Lovers

Guest Post provided by Next Century Publishing and Reader's Legacy

Do you read past your bed time? 
Find yourself begging, “Just one more chapter!”? 
Have an emotional break down when your favorite character dies?

Then say it loud and say it proud: I LIKE BIG BOOKS AND I CANNOT LIE!
Here is a list of must-have pieces for every literature lover.

  1. Harry Potter

Represent your Potter pride with thistank.

Cozy up with your favorite Quidditch player. Pillowshere.

Just in case Hogwarts starts delivering their acceptance letters via text. Here.
***Attention Harry Potter Lovers: In honor of J.K. Rowling being named the Top Followed Author on Reader’s Legacy in 2015 we’re holding a 1 week sale on ALL of her books. From April 25th-30th, 2016 any Rowling book is 20% off AND double the LitCoins will be loaded into your account just for purchasing. Click the link to check out this limited time offer!***

2. The Hunger Games

If you get a set of these bracelets you’ll know it’s real. See what I did there? Clickhere.

Let’s be honest, Seneca Crane’s beard is the real winner of the Hunger Games. Mughere.

But what do we do about the tracker jackers? Tankhere.

3. Lord of the Rings

The one fire pit to rule them all here.

You’ll love theseleggings like a hobbit loves second breakfast.

4. Alice in Wonderland

Now you can go to Wonderland every night. Bedspreadhere.

I’m not crazy. My reality is just different from yours.” -Cheshire Cat Here.

5. To Kill a Mockingbird

and stick it in my awesometote, thanks.

6. Sherlock Holmes

Nothing says ‘high-functioning sociopath’ like these BakerSt. cuff links.

*ring ring* Detective Holmes, is that you? Phonecase here.

7. The Great Gatsby

Why Daisy Buchanan, you are simply radiant tonight! Headbandhere.

Ain’t no party like a Gatsby party because a Gatsby party don’t stop until two people are dead and everyone is disillusioned with the jazz age as a whole. Gatsbyenvelopes here.

8. The Chronicles of Narnia

So how does it work if you keep your map of Narnia in your wardrobe? Do you fall into Narnia when you go to put it on? Narnia-ception. Scarfhere.

Three cheers for The Great Lion! Necklacehere.

9. Pride and Prejudice

Is it just us, or did Mr. Darcy give you unrealistic expectations of love too? Printablehere.

Never leave home without your Jane Austen! Baghere.

This wisdom from the 18th century still holds. Pillowhere.

10. Where the Wild Things Are

I think they’re hiding in your hair! Bowhere.

Capture the wild side of parenting with this matchingset.

And for all of the book lovers that can’t choose just one novel to rep!

How’s THAT for a full-fandom? Shirt here.

You other readers can’t deny; when a book walks in with a good plot base and a big spine in your face you get sprung! Totehere.

Deep breathe in. Ahhhhh books! Candlehere.
As an added perk of Reader’s Legacy’s Rowling celebration, we will be holding a special 20% off sale for each of her novels from April 25th to April 30th –
The sale not only celebrates J.K. Rowling, but was also brings attention for a special grant program we have created in order to give away 1 million physical books in support of literacy programs! Spreading a love of books, and ending illiteracy around the world is 100% possible, and with the help of reader’s on the site, we believe will be one step closer to achieving that goal! Get in on this sale HERE.

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