Adult Book Reviews

YA Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews

Monday, June 17, 2019

Play to Live by Brian VanDongen (Book Spotlight and Giveaway!)

Today, I'm happy to be spotlighting a book that I believe can enhance one's life by helping us to rediscover the joy an wonder of play. Check it out and enter to win a copy!

Book Details:

Book Title: Play to Live: Life Skills and Joy Through the Natural Talent to Play by Brian VanDongen
Category: Self-help/ Inner Child; creativity, 119 pages
Genre: Adult Non-Fiction (18+)
Publisher: BVDPlays
Release date: April 30, 2019
Tour dates: June 17 to July 5, 2019
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

Play To Live: Life Skills and Joy Through The Natural Talent To Play by author Brian VanDongen takes you back to your childhood to remind you about what being a child is all about. Playing! We all have those fond childhood memories of growing up playing with our friends in social settings. Developing social skills and learning how to handle friendships and relationships.

What we didn't realize at the time was that those skills we learned for the building blocks which lay the foundation for the rest of our lives. What are our children learning right now? How are they playing now and what part are we playing in how our children interact with the world around them.

For many children, their idea of play and playing now consists of talking to friends online and playing with electronic devices, staying safe indoors, and not venturing further than their own small safe world which we have created.

Inside Play To Live you'll discover:
  • Understanding what it means to play.
  • Where play has gone and what has changed?
  • How playing inside the box promotes the simplicity of play.
  • Why risky play is not the same as dangerous play. Are we too overprotective?
  • That climbing up the slide is just as important as sliding down.
  • Getting muddy outside and rediscovering nature is imperative.
  • That play is serious business and so much more.
Inside Play To Live: Life Skills and Joy Through The Natural Talent To Play you'll read about case studies and reports followed by tips, tricks, and information to help you. If you would like to rediscover what it means to play, then grab a copy of Play To Live right now!

To follow the tour, please visit Brian VanDongen's page on iRead Book Tours.

​​Meet the author:  ​

Brian is a life-long "parks and rec kid." Now, he is a parks and recreation professional.

Brian has created, designed, and implemented transformational recreational programming for thousands of residents. ​ Through his work as a park and recreation professional, Brian helps people play and find their natural talent to play.

He believes everyone has that talent, but it is sometimes hard to find or even suppressed in today's society. ​ Fortunately, play at its most basic level is easy, fun, healthy, and desirable. That playful talent just needs to be unleashed.

Brian has helped thousands of people find their natural talent to play and become happier and healthier people through the power of play.

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

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends July 13, 2019

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Eternally Artemisia by Melissa Muldoon (Review & Giveaway!)

This is the third book by Melissa Muldoon and I can say that it's her best one yet! Read what I thought of the story and then enter to win a copy!

Book Details:

Book Title: Eternally Artemisia : Some loves, like some women, are timeless by Melissa Muldoon
Category: Adult Fiction (18+), 312 pages
Genre: Fiction General, Fiction Women
Publisher: Matta Press
Release date: March 2019
Tour dates: June 3 to 28, 2019
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (The themes of the book deal with rape and overcoming sexual abuse. It is a book about female empowerment and how with the right tools, and support women may rise above past tragedies to build a better future for themselves.)

Book Description:

They say some loves travel through time and are fated to meet over and over again. For Maddie, an art therapist, who wrestles with the “peculiar feeling” she has lived previous lives and is being called to Italy by voices that have left imprints on her soul, this idea is intriguing. Despite her best efforts, however, proof of this has always eluded her. That is, until one illuminating summer in Italy when Maddie’s previous existences start to bleed through into her current reality. When she is introduced to the Crociani family—a noble clan with ties to the seventeenth-century Medici court that boasts of ancestors with colorful pasts—she finally meets the loves of her life. One is a romantic love, and another is a special kind of passion that only women share, strong amongst those who have suffered greatly yet have triumphed despite it.

As Maddie's relationship develops with Artemisia Gentileschi—an artist who in a time when it was unheard of to denounce a man for the crime of rape, did just that—Maddie discovers a kindred spirit and a role model, and just what women are capable of when united together.

In a journey that arcs back to biblical days and moves forward in time, Maddie encounters artists, dukes, designers, and movie stars as well as baser and ignoble men. With Artemisia never far from her side, she proves that when we dare to take control of our lives and find the “thing” we are most passionate about, we are limitless and can touch the stars.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

This is the third book by Melissa Muldoon and I can say that although I enjoyed her first two novels immensely, this one truly showed how far Muldoon has come as a writer. This book is her best one yet! The story grabbed my attention from the beginning and it kept me in suspense until the last page.

The story is divided into 5 sections, beginning with a scene from Biblical times. It then shifts to modern times and we meet Maddie (Maddalena), an art therapist, who decides to spend the summer in Italy where she meets the Crociani family. Up to this point in the novel, Maddie keeps getting the "feeling" that she has lived a past life and from this point on we are transported back to the 17th century where she meets Artemisia  Gentileschi. This is where the reader can tell that Muldoon is an art historian because she vividly brings to life Artemisia, a woman painter like no other. This novel aroused my curiosity about this artist that I felt compelled to do some research on her. I wanted to learn more about this amazing woman.

The story then shifts to the 1930 epoch, which was my favorite setting of the novel. Once again, Muldoon has a way of bringing her characters to life. Although I thought that this book would include time travel or time slip, it's more of a reincarnation for Maddie. So, in essence, we meet three Maddalenas, each similar in character, but distinctly different people who have lived in different time periods, but who each were inspired by Artemisia, and who experienced the love of a man named Matteo. It's the story of these four women linked by art, the strength of friendship, and the love of a man.

I thought the ending was unique and ties into the modern part of the tale, although the modern part feels incomplete. We know what happens to the Maddie in the 17th century and the 1930s but not the original Maddie of modern times.

If you love art history, strong female characters and stories with a fantastical element to them then I urge you to look for Muldoon's books. They transport you to Italy, to the Renaissance period and to the lives of unforgettable women.

You can read my review of Dreaming Sophia and Waking Isabella

Praise for Eternally Artemisia:

“A true Renaissance woman, Melissa Muldoon weaves her passions for art and Italy into a stirring saga that sweeps across centuries. As her time-traveling heroine Maddie reconnects with kindred souls, we meet Artemisia Gentileschi, the 17th-century artist who overcame rape and ignominy to gain respect and acclaim. Historic figures such as Galileo and Mussolini also come to life in this intricately plotted novel, but the women who defy all constraints to take control of their destinies are the ones who prove to be eternally fascinating.” -- Dianne Hales

What a lovely story! Melissa weaves the lives of 4 women across time, all with some connection to Artemisia Gentileschi, a 16th century Italy painter. They represent the feminine strength that arises from life challenges, each with their unique intelligence. Underlying their stories is the idea that love transcends all, even time, love is timeless. As with her other books, Melissa fills the story out with interesting facts and references to the Italian life, culture and it's history, her attention to detail is immaculate. I loved all of the many connections in this story that tied it all together, very cleverly done. Wonderful read, I would highly recommend it. – Lize, Amazon Reviewer

Melissa Muldoon does a phenomenal job blending fiction, romance, art history, and the Italian language into this gem. For fans of historical fiction, romance, and time travel, I strongly recommend this novel. –Exemplary Editing, Amazon Review

To read reviews, please visit Melissa Muldoon's page on Italy Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

Meet the Author:


Melissa Muldoon is the author of three novels set in Italy: “Dreaming Sophia,” “Waking Isabella,” and “Eternally Artemisia.” All three books tell the stories of American women and their journeys of self-discovery to find love, uncover hidden truths, and follow their destinies to shape a better future in Italy.

Melissa is also the author of the Studentessa Matta website, where she promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog written in Italian and English ( Studentessa Matta means the “crazy linguist” and has grown to include a podcast, Tutti Matti per l'Italiano and the Studentessa Matta YouTube channel, Facebook page and Instagram feed. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Programs, which she co-leads with Italian schools in Italy to learn Italian in Italy. Through her website, she also offers the opportunities to live and study in Italy through Homestay programs. Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master's degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

She has also studied painting and art history in Florence. She is an artist, designer, and illustrated the cover art for all three of her books. Melissa is also the managing director of Matta Press. As a student, Melissa lived in Florence with an Italian family. She studied art history and painting and took beginner Italian classes. When she returned home, she threw away her Italian dictionary, assuming she’d never need it again, but after launching a successful design career and starting a family, she realized something was missing in her life. That “thing” was the connection she had made with Italy and the friends who live there. Living in Florence was indeed a life-changing event. Wanting to reconnect with Italy, she decided to start learning the language again from scratch. As if indeed possessed by an Italian muse, she bought a new Italian dictionary and began her journey to fluency—a path that has led her back to Italy many times and enriched her life in countless ways. Now, many dictionaries and grammar books later, she dedicates her time to promoting Italian language studies, further travels in Italy, and sharing her stories and insights about Italy with others. Melissa designed and illustrated the cover art for Eternally Artemisia, Waking Isabella, and Dreaming Sophia.

She also curates the Dreaming Sophia Art History blog site and Pinterest site: The Art of Loving Italy, where you will find companion pictures for all three books. Visit for more information about immersion trips to learn the language with Melissa in Italy, as well as the Studentessa Matta blog for practice and tips to learn the Italian language.

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

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends July 5, 2019

Sunday, June 9, 2019

It's Murder My Son by Lauren Carr (Review and Giveaway!)

Ever since I started reading books by Lauren Carr, I've been wanting to read her very first book It's Murder My Son. Of course, as expected, this was a great start to a series I now love.

Book Details:

Book Title: It's Murder My Son by Lauren Carr
Series: A Mac Faraday Mystery (Book 1)
Category: Adult fiction, 288 pages
Genre: Murder Mystery
Publisher: Lauren Carr
Release date: June 23, 2010
Tour dates: May 1 - June 28, 2019
Content Rating: PG (It's a murder mystery with mild violence. Mild swearing but no F-bombs)

Book Description:

What started out as the worst day of Mac Faraday’s life would end up being a new beginning. After a messy divorce hearing, the last person that Mac wanted to see was another lawyer. Yet, this lawyer wore the expression of a child bursting to tell his secret. This confidence would reveal Mac as heir to undreamed of fortunes, and lead him to the birthplace of America’s Queen of Mystery and an investigation that will unfold like one of her famous mystery novels.

Soon after she moves to Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, Katrina Singleton learns that life in an exclusive community is not all good. For some unknown reason, a strange man calling himself “Pay Back” begins stalking her. When Katrina is found strangled all evidence points to her terrorist, who is nowhere to be found.

Three months later, the file on her murder is still open when Mac Faraday, sole heir to his unknown birth mother’s home and fortune, moves into the estate next door. Little does he know as he drives up to Spencer Manor that he is driving into a closed gate community that is hiding more suspicious deaths than his DC workload as a homicide detective. With the help of his late mother’s journal, this retired cop puts all his detective skills to work to pick up where the local investigators have left off to follow the clues to Katrina’s executer.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Ever since I started reading books by Lauren Carr, I've been wanting to read her very first book It's Murder My Son. It's the book that introduces us to Mac Faraday and to the unforgettable Gnarly! Of course, as expected, this was a great start to a series I now love and hard to believe this is the author's very first book. Lauren Carr establishes her trademark writing that combines great characters with lovable pets and a complex plot with so many twists and turns that keeps one guessing until the end.

In this first novel, we get to meet Mac, Archie and David for the first time. Because I've read subsequent books in this series, it was interesting to see how the three met and how their characters stay true to form throughout the series. Once again, Gnarly steals the show. He had me cracking up in some scenes. I enjoyed learning how Mac came to own him.

The only thing missing in the novel were dates to the different events since I wasn't sure about the timeline in some scenes. Carr is good about stating dates in her recent novels though, so this is just a minor point.

If you are looking to start a great murder mystery series, look no further. I can see why Carr has a loyal fan base that eagerly await her next novels. I know that I can always expect a diversity of characters, murder cases and lovable pets in any of her series. These are fun books to escape with and are sure to please die-hard mystery fans.

To read reviews, please visit Lauren Carr's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy It's Murder My Son:

Meet the Author:

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

Now, Lauren has added one more hit series to her list with the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries. Set in the quaint West Virginia town of Harpers Ferry, Ice introduces Chris Matheson, a retired FBI agent, who joins forces with other law enforcement retirees to heat up those cold cases that keep them up at night.

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

​Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

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

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends July 6, 2019

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Nightfall by Andrew J Harvey (Review and Giveaway!)

Book Details:

Book Title: Nightfall (Book 1 in the Clemhorn Trilogy) By Andrew J Harvey
Category: Adult Fiction, 250 pages
Genre: Science Fiction Military, Alternate History
Publisher: Zmok Books, an imprint of Pike and Powder Publishing Group LLC
Release date: February 2019
Tour dates: June 3 - 14, 2019
Content Rating: PG-13 (My book includes some violence and adult themes including one off-camera torture scene)

Book Description:

After eighty years of war the remnants of humanity on the Nayarit Line struggled to survive in sealed domes, surrounded by radioactive wasteland and genetically engineered viruses. It was in the last, desperate years of the war that the first trans-temporal portal was developed at Chiqu, a small research facility on the west coast of North America. As the domes finally failed and civilization collapsed around them, Iapura led fifty-three survivors to found a new empire on a parallel Earth; an Earth where, in 1884, Russian and English armies faced each other across America’s Great Plains, totally unprepared for the technology of the invading Nayarit. The Cross-Temporal Empire now encompasses fifty-four parallel Earths. But with its ruling Council riven by dissent the death of First Leader Manet, sets the Council into a slow and irrevocable slide into civil war.

A war that threatens not only the lives of the Clemhorn siblings: Conrad, Arnold, Donald, and Ivy; but the very future of the Empire.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

When I first started reading this novel, I was wondering if it was the same book as what the description says about it. It has a strong beginning as we are introduced to the four siblings: Conrad, Arnold, Donald, and Ivy. The story is told through the eyes of these four main characters in alternating chapters. I enjoyed these main characters and thought they well-developed but was quite confused about the setting, the timeline and what was really going on. I think there wasn't enough world building for me.

There are a lot of characters that are introduced and I had a hard time keeping them straight. A character list at the beginning of the book would have been useful, rather than at the end of the book since I was reading an ebook version.

Overall, for me, this story is propelled by its characters and not the plotline. Alternate history is not easy to achieve and must be written with the understanding that the reader is aware of what is currently happening in both timelines. Less mundane dialogue and more descriptions of place and time would have helped with pacing and overall interest of the plot.

To read reviews, please visit Andrew J. Harvey's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

Add to Goodreads

Watch the Book Trailer:

Meet the Author:

Andrew spent his high-school years in the school's library lost in the worlds of Andre Norton, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov.

His first novel to be accepted for publication was originally completed to be read to his two sons at night. Now his children have left home he lives in Perth, Western Australia, with his wife, one dog, and sixty-four goldfish.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends June 22, 2019

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Velvalee Dickinson: The "Doll Woman" Spy by Barbara Casey (Book Spotlight & Giveaway!)

Once again Barbara Casey has written about the life story of a fascinating woman. Who was Velvalee Dickinson? Take a look at the book details and enter to win this book!

Book Details:

Book Title: Velvalee Dickinson: The "Doll Woman" Spy by Barbara Casey
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 184 pages
Genre: True Crime / Historical / Biography
Publisher: Strategic Media Books
Release date: April 2019
Tour dates: May 27 to June 7, 2019
Content Rating: PG - Velvalee Dickinson is appropriate for all ages.

Book Description:

Velvalee Dickinson was born in Sacramento, California, graduated from Stanford University, married three times, and then in the early 1930s moved to New York City where she eventually opened her own exclusive doll shop on the prestigious Madison Avenue. It was there that she built her reputation as an expert in rare, antique, and foreign dolls. She traveled extensively around the country lecturing and exhibiting her dolls while building a wealthy clientele that included Hollywood stars, members of high society, politicians, and other collectors.

​When medical bills started to accumulate because of her husband’s poor health and business started to fail with the onset of World War II, she accepted the role as a spy for the Imperial Japanese Government. By hiding coded messages in her correspondence about dolls, she was able to pass on to her Japanese contacts critical military information about the US warships. After surveilling Velvalee for over a year, the FBI arrested her and charged her with espionage and violation of censorship laws. She became the first American woman to face the death penalty on charges of spying for a wartime enemy.

Velvalee Dickinson: The “Doll Woman” Spy is a carefully researched glimpse into the “Doll Woman’s” life as a collector of dolls, and as the highest paid American woman who spied for the Imperial Japanese Government during World War II.

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

Buy the Book:

Meet the Author: ​

Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, as well as book-length works of nonfiction, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Her nonfiction true crime book, Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly, has been optioned for a major film and television series. Her nonfiction book, Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave, is under contract for a major film. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency.

Established in 1995, she represents authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. In 2018 Barbara received the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and Top Professional Award for her extensive experience and notable accomplishments in the field of publishing and other areas. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband, and three pets who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix; Reese, a black cat; and Earl Gray, a gray cat and Reese’s best friend.

Connect with the author: Website

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends June 14, 2019

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 27, 2019

What We Do for Love by Anne Pfeffer (Review, Author Interview and Giveaway!)

If you love contemporary women's fiction and a good family drama, this one is a perfect summer read. So check it out, along with my review and the author interview. There's also a chance to win a copy of the book!

​Book Details:

Book Title: What We Do for Love by Anne Pfeffer
Category: Adult Fiction, 227 pages
Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction
Publisher: Bold Print Press
Release date: May 21, 2019
Tour dates: May 20 to June 14, 2019
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (My book has a few instances of the F-word and Sh--- and one somewhat explicit sex scene)

Book Description:

If Lorelai Gilmore of Gilmore Girls was dropped into a thriller, it might resemble this appealing novel.” --Kirkus Reviews

Thirty-eight-year-old Nicole Adams has given up on finding love. Instead, the single mother focuses on the things she cherishes most—her sixteen-year-old son Justin, her friends, and her art. When she convinces a prominent Los Angeles museum to feature a piece of her work, a large-scale installation, she thinks her life has finally turned a corner. Then Justin brings a girl, Daniela, home to live with them. Daniela’s angry parents have thrown her out of the house because she’s pregnant with Justin’s child.

​Shattered, Nicole takes Daniela in and, in so doing, is drawn into the inner circle of Daniela’s family—a frightening world of deceit and violence. Nicole struggles to keep life going as normal. Forced to deal with people she doesn’t trust or like, fearful for the future of both her son and the grandchild they’re expecting, Nicole wonders if she can do what she tells Justin to do: always have faith in yourself and do the right thing. ​

What We Do For Love won the Chick Lit category and made finalist for Best Cover Design/Fiction in the 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards!

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

It's been awhile since I read a good contemporary women's fiction novel and this one was a treat. This book drew me in from the first page and just got better as I got deeper into the book. Nicole is a single mom with a 16-year-old son. She creates beautiful pieces of pottery for a living and has just received an opportunity to display her artwork in a museum, but her life takes on a sharp curve when her son brings home a girl named Daniela who is pregnant with his child.

I liked Nicole right from the get-go and I could relate to her on so many levels, the first as a mom of a teenage boy (I have a 15-year-old son); the second as an entrepreneur (I also run my own business); and thirdly she was the type of person who took it upon herself to help others, she holds the fort together, so to speak. Well, being the eldest in my family, I pretty much do that in my family. So I truly felt like I understood Nicole's fears, disappointments, hopes, and joys.

This was a quick fun read that I enjoyed immensely. Pfeffer understands what it's like to raise a teen son, to make sacrifices for love and to take care of your family. I also loved the setting of Hollywood, California with Nicole's house on top of the hill looking out over the valley.

I'm a new fan of Anne Pfeffer and will look for her other books to read. If you love contemporary women's fiction and a good family drama, this one is a perfect summer read.

To read reviews, please visit Anne Pfeffer's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

Add to Goodreads

An Interview with Anne Pfeffer:

LCR: Welcome to my blog, Anne! So tell me...what is your writing process like?

AP: I’m a “pantser,” i.e. I write by the seat of my pants. I usually start with the germ of an idea and just sit back, write, and see what happens. Not surprisingly, I do a lot of rewriting, as I’m forced to go back and add everything I didn’t know when I wrote the earlier draft.

I don’t really enjoy writing that first draft, when I’m getting the bones of the story on paper. It’s the later versions that are fun, when I can feel the book getting better and better. By the time I’m done, I know my characters inside and out. I’m fond of them, particularly the male ones. They’re the only men in my life who do exactly what I want them to do!

LCR: What made you want to write this book?

AP: The original kernel of an idea came from the road I lived on for fifteen years in the Hollywood Hills—a rutted, one-lane track that ran along the side of a canyon past our home and up to a beautiful lot with a view of the city. A single mother lived there with her daughter. Sometimes our homes seemed to me these perfect, secluded hideaways from the world, but on a really dark, stormy night, mine, at least, felt lonely and vulnerable.

Our neighbor was a social creature who always had friends coming up and down the road for parties and gatherings. I thought it would be fun to write about a single mother living in this setting; thus, the birth of Nicole Adams and her son Justin in What We Do for Love. Nicole, Justin, and my other characters were invented by me and, beyond the initial premise, any resemblance to real people is accidental; similarly, I made up the events of this book from my imagination.

So, although the people and events of this book are fictitious, you can rest assured that the Trail of Terror is real. I’ve lived there.

LCR: What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

AP: For me, the hardest part is making sure that I’m conveying information in exactly the way I hope to. Like when I hope to portray a character as, say, dark yet lovable in an interesting sort of way, sarcastic yet vulnerable … how do I know I haven’t missed the mark? How do I know I haven’t inadvertently made her look like a b&$%#tch on wheels?

That’s when beta readers, or editors, or any honest eyes become helpful. These are people who will tell you in a kind, constructive way that you need to rethink your approach. That your leading lady is cruel and malicious (which is okay if you meant her to be that way, but not okay if you didn’t).

It’s also exactly the time to listen to that little voice in your head. You know, that little warning we all like to ignore that says you took that too far or that joke isn’t funny. But we don’t pull back, or we use the bad joke, and we fall flat on our faces.

My advice is, don’t do that.

LCR: How much research do you do for your books?

AP: It depends on the subject matter. Little research was necessary for What We Do for Love, while others of my books have required quite a lot.

Luckily, virtually every human experience seems to be on Youtube. For The Wedding Cake Girl. I’ve dived vicariously among treacherous columns of kelp and alongside a 600-pound sea bass. For Girls Love Travis Walker, I’ve climbed ladders and blasted water from the hoses of a virtual fire truck. I’ve done those things, so I can write about them.

Even very mundane things, like a drive up the 5 freeway from LA to Santa Cruz, have been recorded by someone who actually thought to strap a camera onto his dashboard – handy if you need to describe a certain freeway exit.

LCR: How do you handle critical remarks about your books?

AP: For the most part, I actually solicit remarks about my books, either before publication, so I can rewrite and improve them, or after publication, so I can sell them. Although I don’t love hearing about the weaknesses in my books, I can’t really fault the people who point them out to me. They’re either being constructive and trying to help me improve my book, or they’re giving the public their honest opinion, which is exactly what they’re supposed to do.

So I generally just try to learn something from these types of comments and, if it’s not too late, I’ll try to fix the problem. Yeah, I’ve been known to kick a few walls and punch a few pillows, but only in the privacy of my home.

LCR: What advice do you have for other writers?
AP: My advice would be to write something you love, something you want to read, that reflects you and what you believe. It’s the only way your book will ring true and resonate with readers.

Don’t write a romance just because romances sell, or a paranormal thriller because they’re the next big thing. For your book to succeed, it should be authentic. It needs to be something only you could write.

LCR: How can your readers discover more about you and your work?

Go to my website at There you can read descriptions and excerpts of each of my books. Or, even easier, I’ve got a one-sentence description of each below.

What We Do for Love: When sixteen year old Justin brings home a girl who’s bearing his child and has been thrown out of her house, it is up to his single mother, Nicole, to take the girl in.

Just Pru:  When shy, anxious Pru loses her apartment in a building fire, she learns how to make friends and find love.

Girls Love Travis Walker: Despite his sexy charm and good looks, Travis must struggle to get the job and girl that he wants.

The Wedding Cake Girl:  When expert scuba diver Alexandra wants to leave her island home for college, she must stand up to her difficult, demanding mother.

Any Other Night:  After Ryan’s friend Michael dies with a secret, Ryan must take over Michael’s unfinished business.

Meet the Author: ​

Award-winning novelist Anne Pfeffer grew up in Phoenix, Arizona reading prodigiously and riding horses. After working in Chicago and New York, she escaped back to the land of sunshine in Los Angeles.

​She has worked in banking and as a pro bono attorney, representing abandoned children in adoption and guardianship proceedings. Anne has a daughter living in New York and is the author of four books in the YA/New Adult genres.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends June 21, 2019

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Song of Atlantis by Brian Power (Review and Giveaway!)

Although labelled a fantasy novel, Song of Atlantis is also historical, sci-fi and somewhat of a thriller. Enter to win a copy!

Book Details:

Book Title: Song of Atlantis by Brian Power
Category: Adult Fiction, 322 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Brian J Power
Release date: December 2014
Tour dates: May 13 - 24, 2019
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (No explicit sex scene or excessive profanity)

Book Description:

A shocking discovery leads one scientist down a dangerous path in Brian Power’s compelling debut novel, Song of Atlantis.

When Amon Goro, the master architect of Atlantis, discovers a way to harness the earth’s forces into an infinite source of clean energy, it seems destined to change civilization as we know it.

But 4,500 years later, Atlantis exploration team leader Palen Golendar is brutally captured by a Native American tribe in modern-day South Dakota—derailing any hope Atlantis held of utilizing its energy secrets.

Eight thousand years in the future, Native American anthropologist Gordon Tallbear and his team of highly skilled researchers stumble across a connection between the recent discovery of Golendar’s remains and an intricate cavern system deep in the mountains of Antarctica…a connection that finally reveals the Atlantean secret of perpetual energy.

While Tallbear and his team plan to recreate the energy source that will change the world, a wealthy group with deep ties to carbon-based fuel producers decides this newfound energy source must be destroyed—and they will stop at nothing to assassinate the researchers in order to bury what they know.

Can Tallbear’s newfound knowledge survive?

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Although labelled a fantasy novel, Song of Atlantis is also historical, sci-fi and somewhat of a thriller. It has three timelines, beginning its story 12 500 years ago in Atlantis, then 8000 years ago in North America and finally present day America where most of the story takes place. The story had a slow start for me, but it became clearer as I progressed into the book. This was very much a "good versus evil" story, with strong elements of native American spirituality versus Satanism.

I must applaud the author on his imagination and the story's clever and intelligent plot. It was complex and well thought out. Fans of the legend of Atlantis will enjoy the portrayal of this technologically advanced civilization and their hidden world in the mountains of Antarctica. The story, however, was bogged down by writing that told the story rather than showed it. At time I felt like I was reading a history book or a journalistic account rather than a fantasy fiction novel. Professional developmental editing would have helped to make this novel exciting and better paced.

I liked the main characters, particularly Gordon Tallbear. He propelled the story forward. The bad guys, especially Tilcotan made my skin crawl. The ending was good and bittersweet. Love always conquers.

To read reviews, please visit Brian Power's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

Meet the Author: 

​Brian Power is an educator who has taught at both the high school and college levels. He earned a BS degree in English and Secondary Education, and an MA in International Relations. A retired corporate consultant and trainer, he is also a retired Marine Corps Reserve Lieutenant Colonel who served for 24 years on both active duty and in the reserves. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife. SONG OF ATLANTIS is his first book.

​For more information, please visit his Website.

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends June 1, 2019

Monday, May 20, 2019

Song of Songs: A Novel of the Queen of Sheba by Marc Graham (Review)

I have always been fascinated by the Biblical account of the Queen of Sheba. If you like historical fiction set in the ancient world, this one is a good one.

Book Details:

Book Title: Song of Songs: A Novel of the Queen of Sheba by Marc Graham
Category: Adult Fiction, 400 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Blank Slate Press
Release date: April 16, 2019
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There are rape scenes and violent war scenes)

Book Description:

Lift the veil of legend for the untold story of Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, and Bathsheba, wife, and mother of Israel’s first kings.

When Makeda, the slave-born daughter of the chieftain of Saba, comes of age, she wins her freedom and inherits her father’s titles along with a crumbling earthwork dam that threatens her people’s survival. When she learns of a great stone temple being built in a land far to the north, Makeda leads a caravan to the capital of Yisrael to learn how to build a permanent dam and secure her people’s prosperity.

On her arrival, Makeda discovers that her half-sister Bilkis (also known as Bathsheba) who was thought to have died in a long-ago flash flood, not only survived, but has become Queen of Yisrael. Not content with her own wealth, Bilkis intends to claim the riches of Saba for herself by forcing Makeda to marry her son. But Bilkis’s designs are threatened by the growing attraction between Makeda and Yetzer abi-Huram, master builder of Urusalim’s famed temple. Will Bilkis’s plan succeed or will Makeda and Yetzer outsmart her and find happiness far from her plots and intrigue?

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

I have always been fascinated by the Biblical account of the Queen of Sheba who traveled to Jerusalem to meet King Solomon. She had heard of his achievements and his great wisdom and wanted to see it with her own eyes. She arrived with an impressive entourage with camels carrying balsam oil and great quantities of gold and precious stones. The account states that she spoke to King Solomon about everything that was close to her heart and she tested him with perplexing questions, all of which he easily answered her.

So when I had the opportunity to read Song of Songs, I was very interested. The story is told alternately from the perspectives of three characters: Makeda (Queen of Sheba), told in the first person, Yetzer (master builder of the temple), told in the second person, and Bilkis (Bathsheba), also told in the second person. The story follows the lives of all three from childhood into adulthood until they merge and clash in the last third of the novel.

The author does such an impressive job of creating and developing these three characters who drive the story just by their personalities alone. The secondary characters were excellent too. I loved Makeda's story the most. She was smart, resourceful, a natural true leader, wise and good from a young age. I wish that Makeda and Yetzer would have met sooner in the book. I feel some of Yetzer's story could have been trimmed (the spiritual testing part was long) and more spent on the latter part of his story. Bilkis was formidable and knew how to look out for her own interests at any cost.

Although this book was based on Biblical accounts, they do not follow the accounts closely and are inaccurate, so if you enjoy books based on Bible people, this is not Christian fiction. As a matter of fact, the author puts a twist on most of the accounts having to do with these characters and he makes use of his creative license to mold them into different characters altogether.

I also loved the Mesopotamian setting that the author brought to life. I could easily picture the desert lands, the temples, the back-breaking work of the stonemasons and the ancient gods they worshipped. The author built an epic story of three very different characters who rise from nothing to greatness, all in their own ways.

Song of Songs is historical fiction that leaves the reader satiated. It's well-written and plunges the reader into a world filled with political intrigue and ancient religious practices. It fills the reader with a myriad of emotions. Marc Graham is definitely an author to watch out for, a true storyteller, and I will look for more of his books to read.

Buy the Book:

Watch the trailer:

Disclosure: Thanks to the author 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

Marc Graham studied mechanical engineering at Rice University in Texas, but has been writing since his first attempt at science fiction penned when he was ten. From there, he graduated to knock-off political thrillers, all safely locked away to protect the public, before settling on historical fiction. His first novel, Of Ashes and Dust, was published in March 2017.

He has won numerous writing contests including, the National Writers Assocation Manuscript Contest (Of Ashes and Dust), the Paul Gillette Memorial Writing Contest – Historical (Of Ashes and Dust, Song of Songs), and the Colorado Gold Writing Contest – Mainstream (Prince of the West, coming from Blank Slate Press in Fall 2019).

He lives in Colorado on the front range of the Rocky Mountains, and in addition to writing, he is an actor, narrator, speaker, story coach, shamanic practitioner, and whisky afficianado (Macallan 18, one ice cube). When not on stage or studio, in a pub, or bound to his computer, he can be found hiking with his wife and their Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.

Connect with the author: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Free Pizza by G.C. McRae

Even though my kids are grown now and I no longer read middle grade books, once in a while I get the itch to do so. Free Pizza was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed it immensely. Check out my review and then enter to win a copy.

Book Details:

Book Title: Free Pizza by G.C. McRae
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction, 360 pages
Genre: Humorous Fiction
Publisher: MacDonald Warne Media
Release date: May 1, 2019
Tour dates: May 1 to 17, 2019
Content Rating: PG (No sex or drugs, just mild expletives such as "hell" and "damn".)

Book Description:

Brian McSpadden is always hungry. Does he have a disease? Worms? Does it have something to do with his being adopted? He spends his days at his crazy friend Danny’s house, hoping for snacks, but nothing seems to fill the void.

​Then Brian receives a mysterious birthday card that says, Free Pizza. He soon discovers the card has nothing to do with food and everything to do with the big questions in his life: where did I come from, why did my mother give me up and is there anyone out there who will like me the way I am?

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Even though my kids are grown now and I no longer read middle grade books, once in a while I get the itch to do so. Free Pizza was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed it immensely. The title is catchy too and has a double meaning.

Twelve-year-old Brian is an adopted child. When he gets the chance to meet his birth mother, he is nervous and very excited. It's summer and Brian is bored and always hungry. He is a growing boy and his mother is stingy with food (my Italian motherly instincts kicked in immediately and I felt frustrated every time he was hungry! I wanted to invite the kid over for lasagna.) Brian hangs around with his friend Danny and what an adventure that summer turns out to be. There was never a boring moment in this novel.

There are two things I loved about this book. The first is that the characters were very well developed and jumped off the page, and I mean all of them. They came across as real, flawed and distinct, making them memorable. The author skilfully portrayed them through the eyes of a twelve-year-old boy. The second thing I loved is that there is a gamma of emotions that runs through this book. We get to laugh, cringe, and have our heart strings pulled throughout the story as Brian goes through a very emotional time in his life. Also, the author does not leave out the parents as a lot of MG books do. Instead this book is very much about family life: the good, the bad and the ugly. I loved the ending of this story.

G.C. McRae understands life with kids and does not shy away from laying it all bare and tackling serious issues. He's a talented Canadian author whose writing reminds me of the craziness of that of Robert Munsch's. I look forward to reading more of his works, and hopefully soon!

To read reviews, please visit G.C. McRae's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

Meet the Author:

​G.C. McRae is the bestselling author of two young adult novels, three illustrated children's books and a collection of original fairy tales. His writing is fall-down funny, even when the theme is darker than a coal miner's cough. McRae reads to anybody at any time, in person or online, for free, which probably explains why he meets so many people and sells so many books.

In his latest work, Free Pizza, McRae spins the highly emotional themes from his decidedly unfunny childhood into a brilliantly comic yarn. After being given up for adoption by his teenage mom back when single girls were forced to hide unplanned pregnancies, his adoptive parents didn’t exactly keep him under the stairs but, well, let's just say, there were spiders.

A lot has changed since then. McRae’s own children have now grown and he runs a small farm with his wife, who is herself an award-winning writer.

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

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends May 25, 2019

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Sunday Post, Mailbox Monday and It's Monday What Are You Reading? May 13 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.

Bonjour les amis! So yes, I've been missing in action the last few months, mainly because I'm working two jobs (one of which is for the French sector of southern Quebec so I'm speaking and writing French daily.) I'm also helping with the caregiving of my mother-in-law who has Alzheimer's so my schedule is full to bursting. But Spring is here and I've resumed biking and that keeps me balanced. Hope you're all doing well and reading good books, of course!

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.

For Review:

An Amazon Charts, USA Today, and Washington Post bestseller!

From the bestselling author of Trail of Broken Wings comes an epic story of the unrelenting force of love, the power of healing, and the invincible desire to dream.

Nothing prepares Jaya, a New York journalist, for the heartbreak of her third miscarriage and the slow unraveling of her marriage in its wake. Desperate to assuage her deep anguish, she decides to go to India to uncover answers to her family’s past. Intoxicated by the sights, smells, and sounds she experiences, Jaya becomes an eager student of the culture. But it is Ravi—her grandmother’s former servant and trusted confidant—who reveals the resilience, struggles, secret love, and tragic fall of Jaya’s pioneering grandmother during the British occupation.

​Through her courageous grandmother’s arrestingly romantic and heart-wrenching story, Jaya discovers the legacy bequeathed to her and a strength that, until now, she never knew was possible.

I can't wait to read this one! It will be on tour with iRead Book Tours in June and July. If you wish to review it, just click on the title's link and it will take you to the book's info page where you can sign up.


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 reviewed and/or featured last week:

 Currently Reading:

Will be starting this one tomorrow.

Stop by and enter my giveaways!

Also posted on the right sidebar.

Hope you all have a great reading week.

Friday, May 10, 2019

The High Court by Chris Ledbetter (Review)

If you like YA action-packed novels and Greek mythology, this is a fun series to get into.

Book Details:

Book Title: The High Court by Chris Ledbetter
Category: YA Fiction, 290 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Month 9 Books
Release date: October 16, 2018
Tour dates: April 1 to 30, 2019
Content Rating: PG (some profanity (damn, ass), no f-bombs, some kissing, no sex scenes, some violence, nothing gory or graphic)

Book Description:

High atop Mount Olympus, dawn breaks on a new academic term. Normalcy has returned to campus following a harrowing expedition into The Underworld to rescue kidnapped students by Zeus and his fellow Olympians. Now, as they prepare to testify in The High Court, Hyperion will be tried for the attack on Crete and death of Anytos. Kronos will stand trial for the murder of Mount Olympus Prep’s Headmaster Ouranos.

As the trials draw near, Mount Olympus Prep students and faculty are besieged repeatedly by a race of gargantuan stone and earth giants. Under heavy assault, the Olympians are forced to flee to the volcanic island of Limnos to regroup. Meanwhile, a toxic poison Zeus has carried with him since a prior fight with a dragoness, creeps toward his brain.

In a race against time and beasts, Zeus and his friends must find a way to survive not only the toxin ravaging Zeus’ body, but also the giants who grow stronger after every attack and somehow make it to The High Court alive.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

A few years ago I read The Sky Throne which is the first book in this series and I enjoyed it. The Sky Throne is based on Greek mythology, a  modern YA rendition of a young Zeus and his adventures as he attends Mount Olympus Preparatory Academia and discovers who he is. The High Court is the second book and a continuation of that story. It's not a stand-alone novel.

So The High Court pretty much continues right from where The Sky Throne left off.  I wished I had read The Sky Throne closer to this reading as there is little backstory and I struggled to remember certain details. So if you're just discovering this series, I strongly suggest you read them back to back. The writing style is the same and the characters stay true to their personalities, with Zeus as hot-tempered and likable as ever. Once again, I loved that the characters are flawed and need to continue growing as the story progresses.

The author introduces new characters to the already large cast of characters, and initially it was hard to keep them all straight but eventually as the plot unfolds, it became easier to keep track. Including a character list at the beginning of the book would have been helpful since each character also has a nickname and these are used interchangeably with their full names throughout the story.

There is the usual rivalry among the students, and the author creates great action adventure scenes that are so well described they come alive. But it's the court case, of course, that racks things up. Once again the teens worked together, each with their own distinct character traits and abilities, with some comical one-liners and joviality among the young heroes.

The High Court has a satisfying ending but leaves room for more to come. If you like YA action-packed novels and Greek mythology, this is a fun series to get into.

To read reviews, please visit Chris Ledbetter's page of iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

Watch the trailer:

Meet the Author:

Chris Ledbetter is an award-winning author of short fiction and novels for young adults. “Jason’s Quest,” a short story retelling of the Jason and Medea Greek myth was published in the anthology, Greek Myths Revisited. His first full-length novel, Drawn earned him two awards, Library of Clean Reads Best YA 2015 and Evernight Publishing Readers’ Choice Award Best YA 2015, as well as a USA TODAY “Must Read” recommendation. His second novel, Inked, concludes that duology. The Sky Throne is his newest young adult series. It includes, thus far, The Sky Throne and The High Court.

He's a proud member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and a strong supporter of the Need for Diverse Books. He now writes and lives in Wilmington, NC with his family, including three cats.

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

Visit Us Today

Visit Us Today
iRead: getting your book in the hands of readers

Wrote a Book Set in Italy?

Back To Top
Copyright © 2009-2017 Laura Fabiani Library of Clean Reads . Designed by OddThemes OddThemes