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Thursday, May 17, 2018

All the Way to Italy by Flavia Brunetti (Review and Giveaway!)

I enjoyed this debut novel that is wholly and thoroughly Italian in atmosphere, food, and language. You can also find Laura Fabiani's review of this same book on Essentially Italian, along with an interview with Flavia Brunetti. We also have a giveaway for this book along with a $20 and $30 Amazon gift card.

Book Details:

Book Title: All the Way to Italy: A modern tale of homecoming through generations past
Author: Flavia Brunetti
Category: Adult Fiction, 222 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction (can fit into YA Fiction as well)
Publisher: Ali Ribelli Edizioni
Release date: April 21, 2018
Tour dates: April 23 to May 18, 2018
Content Rating: PG for the occasional use of "for God's sake" and a few religious references (though very mild). No violence, no swear words, and no sex scenes.

Book Description:

Until her dad died, Little considered herself a Californian. Now, thanks to half a letter, a symbol she can’t quite remember, and writer’s block, she finds herself back in Italy, the country of her birth. In a headlong rush to return to her beloved San Francisco, Little will journey throughout Italy, hoping to find the answers she needs to move on with her life so she need never look back. She’ll enlist the help of the woman who raised her, Sira, her father’s sister; but Sira has secrets she’s kept for decades, and Little underestimates the power of the country she fled years before.

In this powerful story of mixed cultures in a world trying to globalize, one girl’s struggle to leave her home behind will lead her back to the women in her family and the memories each of them has safeguarded through the generations. From war-torn Italy to the belpaese of today, All the Way to Italy is a tale for those in search of a balance between wanderlust and the necessity to come home, a reminder that although we may be fragments, we are never a lost cause.

My Review:
Reviewed by Sandra Olshaski

I enjoyed this debut novel that is wholly and thoroughly Italian in atmosphere, food - “green olives stuffed with meat then fried” and language, even though the protagonist thinks of herself as a Californian.

I appreciate the vivid descriptions as the reader accompanies Little on her travels through Florence, Naples and the Orvieto region as she searches for answers that will enable her to move forward. At the same time, the reader learns a bit of Italian history.

This is a well-written novel with excellent descriptions - “he had passed this on to her, too, this desperate need to recalibrate confusions within by the drumming of the sea.”

The characters are complex and real. My favourite is Little’s beloved aunt (zia) Sira, a wise, thoughtful woman holding onto family secrets, who is at the same time full of fierce love for her family.

This is a story of shifting family dynamics, family secrets, of finding one’s particular place in the world and the meaning of home. I look forward to more stories from this author.

Sandra Olshaski's disclosure: Thanks to Italy Book Tours for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

To follow the tour and read reviews, please visit Flavia Brunetti's page on Italy Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

About the Author:

Photo credit: Roberta Perrone
Born just outside of Rome, Flavia Brunetti grew up bouncing back and forth between Italy and California, eventually moving back to the Eternal City and confirming her lifelong commitment to real gelato. Flavia holds a Master of Arts degree in Government and Politics from St. John’s University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from John Cabot University. Today she travels the world working for an international humanitarian organization and spends her free time writing and wandering around her beloved Roma in constant search of bookstores and the perfect espresso. You can find her city blog on Rome at and her portfolio of published writing at

Connect with Flavia: Website ~ Blog on Rome ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends May 26, 2018

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Decide to Hope by June A. Converse (Review)

When your world shatters, how do you put it back together?

Book Details

Title: Decide to Hope by June A. Converse
Category, Adult Fiction, 332 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction
Release date: May 11, 2018
Content Rating: PG-13 + M includes f-words, expletives, physical abuse, explicit sex scene

Book Description:

An unimaginable trauma. A future that seems impossible. When your world shatters, how do you put it back together? For 950 days, Kathleen Conners has struggled with that choice. Behind a scarf and sunglasses, she hides from the world, from herself, from The Event, from any future with anyone. After receiving a box of letters from his deceased mother, Matt Nelson is shoved from his predictable, controlled life to a secluded beach in North Carolina. While trying to understand his mother's intent, he discovers Kathleen. Matt must choose whether to follow the path his mother orchestrated or rescue the woman who has captured his heart. When the only person Kathleen blames more than herself reappears, can Matt be the strength Kathleen needs to create a new life, or will he be forced to walk away if she decides the climb is too great?

My Review:
Reviewed by Sandra Olshaski

Matt, a 50-something workaholic receives a series of letters from his now deceased mother. The purpose of the letters is to challenge him to self-examination in order to make his life more meaningful and worthwhile. In a beach setting, he meets a mysterious woman named Kathleen who he refers to initially as Scarf Woman. His immediate reaction to her is "a distinct trickle of cold sweat hit his spine." The reader soon realizes that Kathleen is deeply disturbed. There are hints of a dark, sad past from which she gets temporary relief by immersing herself in books. "Stories say things we often can't. They give us a chance to explore emotions we aren't supposed to admit."

The novel carries an intriguing, creative, if somewhat unrealistic plot as far as the timeframe of the story is concerned. It is a slow-building mystery with ominous overtones. HOWEVER, the reader should be advised that it is riddled with f-bombs, other expletives and explicit sexual situations that in no way enhance the story. 

Be prepared for a very intense, gripping read that is also relieved by hope.

Sandra Olshaski's disclosure: Thanks to Rachel from Rachel's Random Resources 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|:

June happily resides in Sandy Springs, Georgia, with her husband, Dave, and their dog, Sodapop. They have two wonderful adult children and two grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic exerciser and an accomplished cook. She and her husband enjoy hiking, with Sodapop, traveling, scuba diving, trying new restaurants, concerts, and whatever other adventures they can find. Reading and a constant desire to learn keeps her busy too. A trauma survivor who struggles with mental illness, June is continuously reaching for hope like the characters in her books. She openly discusses her personal struggles on her blog, Decide to Hope is her first novel and relies a great deal on her own experience with trauma, choices, recovery and hope. If you'd like to discuss trauma, coping and recovery, contact her at or

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

To Love a Spy by Laura Beers (Review)

To Love a Spy is the third book in The Beckett Files series. These books are Regency spy romances and they are fun!

Book Details:

Book Title: To Love a Spy: A Regency Spy Novel by Laura Beers
Series: The Beckett Files, Book 3
Category: Adult Fiction, 292 pages
Genre: Regency Romance / Historical Romance
Publisher: Phase Publishing
Release date: April 2, 2018
Content Rating: PG-13 (for a torture scene)

Book Description:

Freed from the clutches of her cruel, traitorous mother and impostor husband, Lady Camden wants to rebuild her fractured life. But the years of terror and pain she endured at their hands continue to grip her heart in an iron vice. Refusing to stray from the refuge of her country estate, Kate tentatively agrees to an unusual alliance with the new Lord Camden, being mindful to keep her trust, and her heart, firmly safeguarded.

Adrien, the Earl of Camden, had lost everything he held dear while working undercover in France as an agent of the Crown, known only as Hawk. Now an earl, he wants only to repair his tattered, lonely life. His efforts are interrupted, however, when he is called to accept another assignment: Stop French spies from passing a bill in Parliament that will eliminate British aid in the war against Napoleon.

When Kate's past pulls her into a web of treachery and deceit, a life she is wholly unprepared for, Adrien must use any means necessary to stop the French spies from succeeding in their evil designs and keep her safe. When the truth is finally revealed, will Lady Camden be strong enough to seize her own future and happiness, or will her heart be too shattered to ever love a spy?

My Review: 
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

To Love a Spy is the third book in The Beckett Files series. I read the first book Saving Shadow and the second book A Peculiar Courtship, both of which I enjoyed. These books are Regency spy romances and they are fun. In this third instalment, we follow the romance of Kate and Adrien. Kate is the sister of Elizabeth (the notorious spy Shadow) the main character in the first book, who is also part of this story. So although To Love a Spy is a stand-alone novel, I enjoyed having read the first two books that gave me a background into the secondary characters.

Both Kate and Adrien are drawn to each other because they have both suffered great losses. Kate needs to learn to trust men after having been treated cruelly by her late husband. Adrien, a forthright man, needs to learn to reign in his feelings of revenge. She and Adrien form a friendship that quickly turns to a romantic liaison. I would have liked for this to have proceeded at a slower rate given Kate's situation as a woman who suffered conjugal violence.

The plot thread from the previous book about the scheme to take down the English government from French spies within the establishment was explored but the main villain got away in the end and, I have no doubt, will be making an appearance in the next book. More spy missions to look forward to reading!

Once again, I liked this clean romance and the cast of characters that I grew fond of in the first two books. This was a quick enjoyable read and I liked it slightly more than the second book because of the topic of conjugal violence and the ending which I found touching. Despite the heavier emotional content, the author kept the book light. The prevailing topic of good conquering evil that permeates every book makes this series feel-good books.

A Tangled Ruse is the next book in the series and I am already anticipating more fun adventures and escapades with this clan of spy men and their strong women.

Disclosure: Thanks to the author for sending me a review copy. I was not told how to rate or review this product. All opinions are my own.

Buy the Book:

Meet the Author:

Laura Beers spent most of her childhood with a nose stuck in a book, dreaming of becoming an author. She attended Brigham Young University, eventually earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Construction Management.

Many years later, and with loving encouragement from her family, Laura decided to start writing again. Besides being a full-time homemaker to her three kids, she loves waterskiing, hiking, and drinking Dr. Pepper. Currently, Laura Beers resides in South Carolina.

Connect with the author: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Deadliest Sport: A Miriam bat Isaac Mystery in Ancient Alexandria by June Trop

I love historical fiction but there aren't many mystery novels set during the Roman Empire with a strong female lead, so when I saw this book I knew I wanted to read it. See my thoughts and enter the giveaway to win a $15 Amazon gift card!

Book Details:

Book Title: The Deadliest Sport: A Miriam bat Isaac Mystery in Ancient Alexandria
Author: June Trop
Category: Adult fiction, 242 pages
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Release date: October 7, 2017
Tour dates: May 14 to 25, 2018
Content Rating: PG (mild religious oriented expletives, such as "Lord," some violent descriptions, such as the corpse, the gladiatorial arena)

Book Description:

Miriam bat Isaac, a budding alchemist in first-century CE Alexandria, welcomes her twin brother Binyamin home to fight his last gladiatorial bout in Alexandria. But when he demands his share of the family money so he can build a school for gladiators in Alexandria, Miriam explains that he forsook his share when he took the gladiatorial oath.

When she refuses to loan him the money for what she feels is a shady and dangerous enterprise, Binyamin becomes furious. Soon after, the will of Amram, Miriam's elderly charge, turns up missing; Amram becomes seriously ill, and the clerk of the public records house is murdered. Could Binyamin really be behind this monstrous scheme? If not he, who could be responsible? And is Miriam slated to be the next victim?

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

I love historical fiction but there aren't many mystery novels set during the Roman Empire with a strong female lead, so when I saw this book I knew I wanted to read it. And I'm glad I discovered this intelligent mystery series that easily transported me to ancient Alexandria, an exotic and dangerous mix of people and places that kept me turning the pages.

Although this one is the third book in the Miriam bat Isaac Mystery series, it can be read as a stand-alone. The author does an excellent job including details from past novels so that I did not feel lost. It did make me want to read the previous novels, though. And also the next one, which has just been released. Incidentally, Miriam's character is loosely based on a real person named Maria Hebrea, the legendary and little-known founder of Western alchemy.

In this instalment, Miriam is waiting for the return, from Rome, of her twin brother Binyamin, a renowned gladiator who will now fight one last time in Alexandra before becoming a free man. Miriam is of the Jewish faith and now the head of her household since the death of her father. She hopes Binyamin will want to help with the family business but he has other plans and wants to use the family money in an enterprise that is sure to fail. This causes great friction between the twins who are very different in most ways except to stand up for what they each believe in. Things start going wrong from the moment her brother sets foot in Alexandria and Miriam must use her wits and courage to deal with her situation.

I loved June Trop's writing. Her meticulous research of this period in history is clearly seen and seamlessly blends in with her descriptive writing. It was a treat to the senses. Sometimes I would reread a sentence twice to savor her beautiful depictions of food, clothing, the marketplace and the city itself. Truly, she brought to life Alexandria and the way of living in the first century.

The author's writing is also bold, as she puts her characters in difficult and precarious situations. The outcome may seem obvious, but in nonetheless unexpected. It takes confidence as a writer to make one's characters suffer loss and grow and change with each book. I look forward to continuing to read June Trop's series that satisfied my fascination with well-written stories set in time period of the Roman Empire.

To read reviews, please visit June Trop's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

Watch the Book Trailer:

Meet the Author:

June Trop and her twin sister Gail wrote their first story, "The Steam Shavel [sic]," when they were six years old growing up in rural New Jersey. They sold it to their brother Everett for two cents.

"I don't remember how I spent my share," June says. "You could buy a fistful of candy for a penny in those days, but ever since then, I wanted to be a writer."

As an award-winning middle school science teacher, June used storytelling to capture her students' imagination and interest in scientific concepts. Years later as a professor of teacher education, she focused her research on the practical knowledge teachers construct and communicate through storytelling. Her first book, From Lesson Plans to Power Struggles (Corwin Press, 2009), is based on the stories new teachers told about their first classroom experiences.

Now associate professor emerita at the State University of New York at New Paltz, she devotes her time to writing The Miriam bat Isaac Mystery Series. Her heroine is based on the personage of Maria Hebrea, the legendary founder of Western alchemy, who developed the concepts and apparatus alchemists and chemists would use for 1500 years.

June lives with her husband Paul Zuckerman in New Paltz, where she is breathlessly recording her plucky heroine's next life-or-death exploit.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends June 2, 2018

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Monday, May 14, 2018

The Dan Diaries by D.D. Marx (Book Spotlight and Giveaway!)

Today I'm happy to be spotlighting the fourth book in The Beyond series. Check it out and enter the giveaway to win the whole series!

Book Details:

Book Title: The Dan Diaries by D.D. Marx (The Beyond Series Book #4)
Category: Adult Fiction; 200 pages
Genre: Chick-Lit
Publisher: Beyond Dreams Publishing
Release date: April 6, 2018
Tour dates: May 14 to June 8, 2018
Content Rating: PG-13 (minimal swearing)

Book Description:

Dan Sullivan was the best friend of Olivia Henry when his life was taken in a tragic car accident. Shocked to be on the other side, Dan navigates his way by learning his new role in eternal life. His first assignment is as Olivia’s guardian angel. He has the crucial role of guiding her to her pre-defined destiny. Dan’s death throws Olivia into a tail-spin which causes her to veer way off course. He understands the enormity of the challenge when he hears the mechanism by which he can communicate. He’s only allowed to use signs and symbols to get her attention and cannot interfere with her free-will.

Every time he thinks he’s close, something throws her off track. He’s forced to start over by convincing her to trust in their enduring, unbreakable bond. Olivia can feel Dan’s presence but is still reluctant to believe the messages he’s sending. She is fearful of falling in love again at the risk of losing another soulmate. Can Dan persuade her to trust in his love from afar so she can finally receive the happiness she truly deserves?

Buy the Book:

Meet the Author:

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

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

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends June 16, 2016

1st Prize: Win the complete Beyond series (4 paperback books total) and a Shine Bright Journal (open to USA only / 1 winner)

2nd Prize: Win the complete Beyond series (4 ebooks total / open int'l / 2 winners)

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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sunday Post, Mailbox Monday and It's Monday What Are You Reading? May 14 Edition

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

We continue to get sunny days and we are continuing our yard work, renovations and planning for our summer holidays. I watched Captain Corelli's Mandolin on Netflix this weekend and I loved it. The cinematography was beautiful and I wished I could have seen it on the big screen when it came out years ago. Also saw Avengers Infinity War and that ending made me want to throw my 3D glasses at the screen! Much like when we want to throw a book against the wall after an infuriating cliffhanger ending. Hope you all have a great reading week!

Mailbox Monday Edition

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

For Review:

I've enjoyed this author's time travel books in the past

Free Kindle & Kobo books:

I have the first three books in this series

A medeival mystery...there aren't many mysteries set in this time period

A story about a group of young writers and artists gather on the Greek island in the 60s


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

What I read and/or featured last week:

Degrees of Love by Lisa Slabach (Book Spotlight and Giveaway!)

All the Way to Italy by Flavia Brunetti (Review, Author Interview, and Giveaway!) This book made me so nostalgic for Rome!

 Reading Now:

Stop by and enter my giveaways!

Also posted on the right sidebar.

Hope you all have a great reading week.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Guest Post: How to Make it as a Writer

In my ten years of book blogging I have visited thousands of book blogs and discovered that many readers are also writers. Some of this is evident as I read their reviews, others blog openly about writing their first novel. As a writer myself, I thought I'd share this guest post with you.

How to Make it as a Writer
Article by Maggie Hammond

There is no tried and tested formula that can guarantee you make it as a writer - indeed, maybe people have wildly varying definitions of what exactly constitutes ‘making it.’ But nonetheless, this article will explore some of those small adjustments that aspiring writers can make to ensure they’re well-placed to get published, well reviewed, and ultimately catapulted into the sort of writing reputation you’ve striven for so long


Getting yourself stuck into a book was probably what started your long journey towards wanting to become a writer in the first place and, whether you’re still an avid reader or life has taken you away from the written word for any of a multitude of reasons, it’s time to place books and reading at the top of your priority tree. Reading is how we learn not only huge overarching plot structures, narrative arcs, and mythic motifs; it’s also on a smaller scale a way of acquiring a new language, complex and interesting sentence structure, and a variety of tones that can only inform your writing.

Again, anyone who enjoys reading and writing will be aware that they tend to write in the style of the last book they read - a sort of happy subconscious plagiarism that, over the course of our lives, becomes a tapestry of the words we’ve read and the stories we’ve remembered. It’s the primary source of information and inspiration for writers and always will be, so ensure you are never without a book and that your bookshelf is fully stocked with books you cannot wait to penetrate. All will inform your writing.


One frustration of all creatives is the oppressive nightmare that is establishing and keeping to a set routine. But what it’s better than is sitting on one’s hands all day, waiting for that flash of inspiration to arrive, and in the meantime filling your time with useless tasks. This would be arguably much less productive.

What you’ll want to do instead is find your best working hours and ensure that you’re devoting yourself towards your goal for a set number of hours each day. Check out the writing routines of some famous writers from the past for a little bit of perspective here Some wake at 4 and break at midday until a late-evening writing session, while others prefer 2-hour bursts with coffees streaming in at regular intervals. Even if you spend part of your routine reading or day-dreaming, these activities should help your writing thoughts coalesce around something meaningful and inspirational. Taking some time out to get inspired may lead to your next big idea.


All writers should never be without at least one notebook. Ideas and reflections can come at any moment and can just as quickly evaporate into nothingness in creative minds that are always piecing together symbols in unique and exciting ways. Latching onto a thought for long enough to write it down, storing it for future consumption, is making a small prospective investment in your own imaginative capacity to intrigue readers.

Other than keeping a notebook, there are some useful apps and programs out there that you can store your notes in. The benefits are multiple: for one, they’re stored online, so that you can access them anywhere in the world and you can be sure they’ll never get lost, as valuable notebooks have a habit of doing. Access from various points can be perfect if you want to write on the go. Further, you’ll be able to search words and phrases to quickly locate a long-ago submitted note that might have taken you a good bit of thinking to unearth in a physical note-filing system. Check out Evernote to start you off, although there’s plenty of other options out there. Keeping track of your ideas is vital as there would be nothing more frustrating than losing your notes for a piece that you suddenly feel inspired to take on.


Blogging is useful as it’s an inoffensive and unobtrusive place to publish your writing. You can make it as private or public as you may desire and can take some time developing the aesthetic. You may have written a chapter of a book that you have never since felt the same about, though you cherish the chapter all the same or some poetry that’s never seen the light of day beyond a folder on your laptop. It’s time to be confident and gently expose yourself to the criticism and feedback that blogging entails. Blogging communities are, on the whole, kind and supportive places, so you needn’t worry about a deluge of hate mail.

Regularly posting on a blog is also useful when it comes to the time you’d like to expose yourself as an author, either with prospective publishing companies or, if you’ve already got a book out, in order to build a following of people who enjoy your writing and would like to sample more. Read up on building an author blog and the benefits it’ll bring if you’re unconvinced.


When all is said and done, there’s one key element of making it as a writer, and that’s having the confidence to put yourself out there, a confidence in your voice and your contribution to the writing world. Confidence will abolish perfectionism and will negate the stifling effects of writer’s block, enabling you to rattle off hundreds of words a day without crippling self-doubt.

Even if you cherish your crippling self-doubt as a self-critical mechanism, you should still be bold enough to write continuously without forever stopping to reread and re-edit pieces of your writing that you’re desperate to make as good as possible. Of course, getting your meaning across is incredibly important, but a lot of that is done unconsciously, so trust in yourself and have the confidence to self-publish when everything’s finished.

While this isn’t an algorithm for success, these tips should nonetheless be helpful in search of any writer to achieve what they set out to achieve.

Maggie Hammond is a retired nurse and freelance writer, exploring and writing in the U.S. in retirement. An advocate for public health and nursing qualifications, she feels passionate about raising awareness of the current strain on public health organisations.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Children's Books: Comical Introduction to Numbers, Days of the Week and...Fruit

Book Details:

Order! Order! by Nigel Tetley
Illustrated by: Simon Goodway
Published: Jan 11, 2018
Published by Matador (imprint of Troubador)
Softcover picture book: 54 pages
For children ages 2-5
Content rating: G

Book Description:

Teaches a key mathematical theme for Early Years Numeracy through both imaginative and entertaining text and pictures. Not a typical Maths book – engaging for children up to 5 years. Ideal for teachers and parents to read with children.

The book features four variations on the mathematical theme of sequence, which together introduce young readers to the first ten ordinal numbers, the first five cardinal numbers and the seven days of the week. Imaginative and with funny texts, this brilliantly illustrated book will educate young children without them even realising it.

From the Great Penguin Race; a week of Animal Antics; to the tragedy of Little Lucy Ladybird, and finally, the ingenuity of an original action finger rhyme, children will be both enthralled and informed by these well told stories.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

I've now read several books by Nigel Tetley who makes use of humour, rhyme and the animal kingdom to teach valuable lessons without sounding preachy. Instead, I've found all of Tetley's books fun and creative, including Order!Order!

In this chapter book, the author tackles numerical sequence, such as first, second, third, with the help of ten penguins in a race. In the second chapter, we learn the days of the week through the funny antics of animals with names such as Greedy Gertie Goat or Silly Sally Snake. In the third chapter, it's back to numerical sequence with rhyming storytelling, and finally, we have a cute rhyme about handy fingers. I love the play on words.

Order! Order! is an intelligent book that is for young children, yet uses a vast vocabulary of words. It's educational, fun, creative and includes pastel-colored illustrations that are simple and age-appropriate. This book is ideal in the classroom setting or the home library.

Buy the Book:

About the Author:

Since qualifying as a Religious Studies teacher in 1989, Nigel Tetley has worked in a variety of schools, spanning middle and secondary age groups in both the State and independent sectors. At the beginning of his teaching career, he also spent a year in Greece teaching English as a second language. In 2001, he started writing children's poetry at the suggestion of a colleague. Since then he has also written the texts for three carols: 'Alchemy,' 'Snow,' and 'The Way of Paradox.' (Encore Publications, 2006.)

Book Details:

Nothing Rhymes With Orange by Adam Rex
Published: Aug 1, 2017
Published by Chronicle Books
Hardcover picture book: 48 pages
For children ages 4-8
Content rating: G

Book Description:

A perfect laugh-out-loud, read-aloud from New York Times bestselling author Adam Rex!

We all know nothing rhymes with orange, but how does that make Orange feel? Well, left out, obviously!

When a fruit parade gets together to sing a song about how wonderful they are—and the song happens to rhyme—Orange can’t help but feel like it’s impossible to ever fit in. But when one particularly intuitive Apple notices how Orange is feeling, the entire English language begins to become a bit more inclusive.

Beloved author-illustrator Adam Rex has created a hilarious yet poignant parable about feeling left out, celebrating difference, and the irrefutable fact that nothing rhymes with orange.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

This is the second children's book I've read by Adam Rex and once again it stands out! This rhyming book celebrates fruit and how good they are. Orange appears in every page corner with a little comment, wanting to be a part of all the fun that the other fruits are having. He's feeling left out and is visibly upset until the popular apple notices.

I thought this book was vibrant, colorful, and unique. It's funny for kids but hilarious for adults. The orange's comments are smart. They just cracked me up. Although he was left out until the end, he really is the star of the book. The illustrations are made with pics of real fruit that have faces drawn on them with a black marker. I loved it! If my kids were still young I would have taken fruit and drawn faces on them and paraded the fruit while reading the book.

Children not only get to learn different fruit, like quince and honeydew, but they also get to learn about different emotions and feelings. The faces drawn on the orange and the other fruit display sadness, disappointment, exasperation, anger, happiness, and more. The text can also be turned into a song. Some pages are bursting with color and some are on a stark white background that really made the fruit stand out.

This book will appeal to children of all ages and lovers of fruit, especially oranges! Great for kids 3 to 100. This book is a winner.

Buy the Book:

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.

Adam Rex's celebrated picture book Nothing Rhymes With Orange came about in an unusual way. In this video, Adam explains his top tips for getting a picture book published with a delicious end. Funny!

Disclosure: Thanks to the authors and publicists 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 7, 2018

Degrees of Love by Lisa Slabach (Book Spotlight and Giveaway!)

Earlier this year I reviewed Lisa Slabach's debut novel Degrees of Love and was blown away by how intense it was. It's once again on tour and I'm spotlighting it today. Check it out and enter for a chance to win a copy of a $25 Amazon gift card.

Book Details:

Book Title: Degrees of Love: A Novel by Lisa Slabach
Category: Adult Fiction, 344 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Bookbaby
Release date: Dec 1, 2017
Tour dates: May 1 to 18, 2018
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (Adult themes including infidelity, occasional F-word, non-explicit sex scenes)

Book Description:

At thirty-six, Susan Sinclair has it all. She's just been promoted to Senior Vice President of Mobile Banking at her firm, a prestigious position bringing fresh creative challenges and a hefty salary increase. Like the shiny new BMW in the driveway of the Silicon Valley home she shares with her husband, Matt, and their two beautiful boys, Susan exudes confidence and style.

Yet despite her success in juggling the roles of wife, mother, and businesswoman, Susan struggles with a secret dissatisfaction. Matt's work in cutting-edge computer research pays less than her job, and with each advance in her career, he has grown more distant. But Matt refuses to admit there is a problem, and Susan forces herself to play along, determined to give her boys the close-knit family life she never had.

Then she meets her new boss, Reese Kirkpatrick. Working and traveling together, she and Reese become a crackerjack team, but little by little, pleasure mixes with business. For the first time in a long time—maybe ever—Susan feels seen and appreciated for who she is. Certain she would never allow their friendship to cross the line, Susan lets herself stray dangerously close to the edge.

A moment of weakness changes everything. Now, unable to stomach the fa├žade her marriage has become yet unwilling to decimate her family by moving forward with Reese, Susan faces a choice that could cost her everything—including her children . . . but possibly bring her more than she can dream.

Praise for Degrees of Love:

"Slabach crafts a relatable, heartbreakingly real story that will no doubt resonate with those at a similar station in life: women who love their families yet yearn for just a little more—to feel wanted rather than needed, to feel passion rather than complacency. In engaging prose and through skillful storytelling, Slabach captivates with an all-too-familiar story that raises questions with no easy answers."
- Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

"This does not read like a debut author’s book. Slabach shows herself to be adept at portraying the complex emotions of the human condition. Her characters live and breathe on the page in a way that every author strives for, but few actually manage. Susan’s struggles ring true, and the way she handles everything makes her a very likable and relatable character."
- Sarah Perry, San Francisco Book Review, 5 Stars

"Profound, heart wrenching and very emotional, it is hard to believe that Degrees of Love is a debut novel by Lisa Slabach. This is one of the best novels I have read this year."
- Rabia Tanveer, Readers' Favorite

Buy the Book:

Meet the Author:

Degrees of Love is Lisa Slabach’s debut novel. She is currently working on her third full-length manuscript and a collection of short stories inspired by her experiences growing up in a small farm community in Washington’s Yakima Valley. In addition to writing, Lisa works for a Fortune 500 Company, leading a sales team in the financial industry. She currently resides in Northern California with her husband and has two daughters, who are both pursuing careers in film. In her free time, she enjoys drinking wine with friends and cooking in her pink kitchen.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

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Sunday, May 6, 2018

Sunday Post, Mailbox Monday and It's Monday What Are You Reading? May 7 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.

May is such a busy month! Work is hectic, kids are finishing up projects and getting ready for exams, and I'm doing spring cleaning. Today is a sunny warm day and we did some yard work too. I hope you had a wonderful weekend and are reading good books!

Mailbox Monday Edition

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

For Review:

I've loved this author's previous Biblical fiction

Thriller set in Florence. I'm eager to dig into this one.

MG fiction by a new author.

Free Kindle books:

Time travel...


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

What I read and/or featured last week:

Eyes Don't Lie: You Can't Hide by Crystal Dawn Mason (Book Spotlight & Giveaway!)

Fighting Parkinson's ...and Winning by Howard Shifke (Review) If you have Parkinson's or know of anyone who does, this is the book to read.

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley (Review) Another winner by Kearsley

Mini Reviews: Island Games, The Crown Jewel Mystery, and Found in Time One hit and two misses...

 Reading Now:

This is the third book in the Regency Spy Romance series

Stop by and enter my giveaways!

Also posted on the right sidebar.

Hope you all have a great reading week.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Mini Reviews: Island Games, The Crown Jewel Mystery, and Found in Time

I've been reading a lot of books lately and don't always feel the need to write an in-depth review of them all. Here are a few that were quick reads:

Island Games by Caleb J. Boyer
Lasting Press
Published: Dec 20, 2017
Category: Middle-Grade, 192 pages
Genre: Action/Adventure
Content rating: G


I like supporting young writers and was impressed that this book was written by a 12-year-old boy. It was a quick read and fairly entertaining, suitable for an audience of 8-10 years of age. Best friends Matthew and Ryan wake up on a deserted island, without their memories and have no clue why they are there. They realize they must work together to survive and are tested in what turns out to be a series of games. The novel is an admirable debut for a young writer but was lacking in character development, realistic dialogue and plot resolution. With a good editor, however, I can see this young writer developing his craft to become a successful writer.

The Crown Jewel Mystery by Anne Elliott and Charles Veley
Wilton Press
Published June 1, 2017
Category: Adult fiction, 113 pages
Genre: Mystery novella
Content rating: G


After reading one of the books in this series, I was eager to read this novella that is a prequel to The Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mystery series. It was a fast, exciting read, as we are introduced to Lucy James, a brilliant and spunky heroine who gets caught as a hostage during a bank robbery. Having grown up as an orphan in an American boarding school, she was on a quest to discover who the anonymous donor to her upbringing could be. She then finds herself in a dangerous predicament and as the plot unfold we get to see what her connection to Sherlock Holmes might be. An engrossing, entertaining and delightful read. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Found in Time by J.K. Kelly
J.K. Kelly Consulting LLCPublished: Oct 17, 2017
Category: Adult fiction, 318 pages
Genre: Time Travel, Sci-fi
Content rating: PG-13


I was looking forward to this time travel story that promised to be exciting, but unfortunately, it wasn't what I expected. It started out good but then just didn't seem to be going anywhere. The characters spent way too much time drinking and cussing in bars, and after 50 pages, I just lost interest.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley (Review)

I have long been waiting to read a book by Susanna Kearsley and I savored this novel page by page. Read on to see what I thought of this author's latest novel.

Book Details:

Book Title: Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley
Category: Adult Fiction, 432 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Release date: April 24, 2018
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

Some houses seem to want to hold their secrets.

It’s 1759 and the world is at war, pulling the North American colonies of Britain and France into the conflict. The times are complicated, as are the loyalties of many New York merchants who have secretly been trading with the French for years, defying Britain’s colonial laws in a game growing ever more treacherous.

When captured French officers are brought to Long Island to be billeted in private homes on their parole of honour, it upends the lives of the Wilde family—deeply involved in the treasonous trade and already divided by war.

Lydia Wilde, struggling to keep the peace in her fracturing family following her mother’s death, has little time or kindness to spare for her unwanted guests. French-Canadian lieutenant Jean-Philippe de Sabran has little desire to be there. But by the war’s end they’ll both learn love, honour, and duty can form tangled bonds that are not broken easily.

Their doomed romance becomes a local legend, told and re-told through the years until the present day, when conflict of a different kind brings Charley Van Hoek to Long Island to be the new curator of the Wilde House Museum.

Charley doesn’t believe in ghosts. But as she starts to delve into the history of Lydia and her French officer, it becomes clear that the Wilde House holds more than just secrets, and Charley discovers the legend might not have been telling the whole story...or the whole truth.

Buy the Book:

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

I have long been waiting to read a book by Susanna Kearsley and I savored this novel page by page. Although the story build-up is slow, it's what ended up making me like this book all the more. Best of all, I loved the Canadian history and how it unfolded to reveal how the Colonial Wars between the British and French colonies affected the local people. The setting was familiar to me as I live in Montreal, Quebec and have been to some of the places mentioned in this book.

Bellewether is a dual timeline story alternating between the present and 1759, with exactly the same setting and events unfolding in the same house but during two different time periods. In the present we have Charley who is the new curator of the Wilde House Museum. She has a "meh" relationship with her boyfriend and has moved in with her college-age niece who is now alone since Charley's brother died. Charley loves researching the history of the Wilde house and her discoveries follow the story that takes place in 1759 when the Wilde family take in two enemy French officers, POWs on parole of honour.

Lydia Wilde is the only daughter in a house of men (her mother died) and she and French-Canadian lieutenant Jean-Philippe de Sabran are not happy to be in the same house together. The presence of the French officers further strains the already tense atmosphere by Lydia's youngest brother who also fought in the war against the French.
This is where Kearsley's writing talent comes into play. She creates a tense situation and realistically builds on how the family and the officers had to learn to co-habit even as the war is still raging and they do not speak the same language. I loved how the relationship and eventual love between Lydia and Jean-Philippe builds, like a slow burn. Kearsley shows how even during war, or despite it, people have the same fears, needs and compassion no matter which side they are on. She peels back the layers of their personalities during this highly conflicting time, which only adds to the pleasure of their relationship.

There is a ghost in this story, which I tolerated as I do not like or read ghost stories. As with most dual timeline stories I have read, I seem to find one timeline more interesting than the other. In this case, the historical timeline or Lydia's story was more interesting to me, even as I enjoyed the present day story. I loved how Kearsley brings both stories together by the end of the novel and how she built the mystery of what really happened between Lydia and Jean-Philippe. Is there any truth to their tragic legend?

If you are a fan of Kearsley's novels then you will enjoy this new story. If you are reading her work for the first time, this novel has her signature mystery/paranormal/historical richness evident in all her books. This was an enjoyable and highly satisfying read for me.

Disclosure: Thanks to Netgalley and 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:

Photo: Jacques du Toit
A former museum curator, Susanna Kearsley brings her passion for research and travel to her novels, weaving modern-day and historical intrigue. She won the prestigious Catherine Cookson Fiction Award for her novel Mariana, the 2010 Romantic Times Book Review’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction novel for The Winter Sea, was shortlisted for a 2012 RITA Award for The Rose Garden, and was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel from the Crime Writers of Canada for Every Secret Thing. Visit her at or follow her on Twitter @SusannaKearsley.

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