Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Review & Giveaway: The Storyteller's Secret

Book Details:

Book Title: The Storyteller's Secret by Sejal Badani
Category: Adult Fiction, 399 pages
Genre: Literary
Publisher: Lake Union
Release date: September 2018
Tour dates: June 3 to July 12, 2019
Content Rating: PG-13 (There are some non-explicit sex scenes)

Book Description:

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.

To read reviews, please visit Sejal Badani's page on iRead Book Tours.

Book Review:

This is one of those books that should be a bigger deal.  How have I not seen this book on everyone's TBR? How has Oprah or Reese Witherspoon not chosen this book for their book clubs? I shouldn't be able to go on bookstagram or twitter without seeing this title.

To say I was transported by this book is a complete understatement.  I was enthralled and moved by every sentence.  At times, I felt as though I was absorbed into the book and surrounded by the setting.  The descriptions of India, its food, its traditions, its sites, were all laid out in such beautiful detail that I was a little taken aback every time that I stopped reading.  I would look up from the page and find myself not in current or British occupied India, but in my own home (or car, or park, or gym).  And that only explains how I felt about the setting, and not the story itself.

The story is phenomenal, just remarkable.  Even when I knew what was going to happen, I couldn't look away from the tragic prose.  I needed to know for certain what happened with Jaya and Patrick.  I lived on their hopes and cried in their pain, knowing, personally, the depths of the sorrow they were unable to share with each other.  Jaya's grandmother's journey becomes the road to redemption for Jaya, instilling her with unknown courage and strength. The past becomes the foundation for this story, but Jaya's experiences are the lifeblood, the beating heart that propels the reader through each chapter.

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And that cover.  Seriously, I was captivated by the cover before I knew anything about the book.  I wasn't sure if the pages inside could live up to the promise of the front, but it did.  Oh my did it ever.  This book is going to stay with me like few others have ever.  The kind of book that open your eyes and deposits parts of itself in your soul. 
It will be hard for me to think of India without thinking of Amisha and Jaya's journeys.  Sejal Badani, with one book, has become one of my favorite authors.

*Special thanks to Sejal Badani, iRead Book Tours, and Lake Union Publishing for a copy of Storyteller's Secret in exchange for an honest review.

Buy the Book:

​Watch the Book Trailer:

Meet the Author:

​A former attorney, Sejal Badani left the law to pursue writing full time.

She is a USA Today, Washington Post, & Amazon Charts bestselling author, Goodreads Fiction Award Finalist and ABC/DISNEY Writing Fellowship Finalist.

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

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends July 20, 2019

Friday, July 5, 2019

Review & Giveaway: The Impaler's Wife

The Impaler's Wife by Autumn Bardot

Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Flores Publishing
eBook; 452 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

Legend, history, and passion collide in this gritty, evocative, and sensual story about history's most notorious price and the woman who paid love's ultimate price. The year is 1464, and young King Matthias controls Hungary, his family, and the fate of the world’s most notorious political prisoner, Prince Vlad Dracula. Ilona Szilágy, the king’s cousin, is young and ambitious. Dracula is determined to marry into the Hunyadi family. It is love at first sight…but the king has other plans. The Impaler Prince, however, never takes no for an answer. This begins Ilona’s journey into the treacherous world of court intrigues, family betrayals, and her husband’s dark desires. Eager to become Vlad’s trusted confidant, Ilona soon discovers that marriage to a man tortured by his past comes with a price. Woven throughout is a peek into the life and times of one of the world’s most enigmatic and maligned rulers…the man before the legend. With Bardot’s decadent period detail and a cast of gritty evocative characters, The Impaler’s Wife offers a fierce yet sensuous glimpse into the violent 15th century.

Available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

My Thoughts...

I love reading books my new authors that entertain while teaching me something.  Autumn Bardot, in her unique and infectious style, taught me so much about a subject I didn't even know I wanted to learn about.  Now that is some incredible talent.

Like a lot of people,  I am weirdly fascinated by Dracula and the myths that surround him.  Sometimes, the myths are so prevalent that I forget he was a real, historical figure, with a true past outside of Bram Stoker's imagination.  In saying that, I would definitely suggest reading the author's note at the end of the book.  It serves as a friendly reminder and a little bit of a historical tease.  After finishing this novel, I felt compelled to do some quick online research just to figure out what was real.

This book begins with a two story introduction, but you can immediately sense the mounting tension.  I would call the first 100 pages a slow burn, but when the book catches fire it is an inferno.  The sexual storyline almost became the third story, showing just how important sex can be to a relationship and what it can become within the relationship.  For Ilona and Vlad, their intimacy is defined by their attraction and connection to an almost destructive point.  They do not truly come together as a couple until they are completely open physically, with all of their walls and inhibitions removed.

I loved how much history was written into the novel.  The period descriptions seemed spot on, with an amazing amount of detail.  I could easily picture the dresses, castles, and courtiers while never losing the momentum of the story.  The blood and gore were all too real and Autumn Bardot did not shy away from the brutality of war or of Vlad's reign.  By reading this, it is clear that the author did an immense amount of research into the characters and the time period.

I loved the transformation of Ilona and the ending that becomes a beginning.  It's best to think of this book as a prequel.  This is how, possibly, all of the myths began.  With stirring detail and impeccable historical accuracy, The Impaler's Wife easily transports the reader to the horror and mystery of Vlad Dracula's fight for power... of all kinds.

About the Author

Autumn Bardot writes historical fiction and erotica about sassy women and daring passions! Her erotic fiction includes Legends of Lust, Erotic Myths from around the World, published by Cleis Press. Confessions of a Sheba Queen (erotica) will be available Jan 2020. The Impaler's Wife is her debut historical fiction, releasing in April 2019. Autumn has a BA in English literature and a MaEd in curriculum and instruction. She’s been teaching literary analysis for fourteen years When Autumn’s not writing or working, you'll find her hanging out with her ever-growing family, spoiled husband, and pampered rescue pooch. Her favorite things include salty French fries, coffee, swimming, and a great book.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 3 Review at 100 Pages a Day Tuesday, June 4 Excerpt at Historical Fiction with Spirit Wednesday, June 5 Review at Amy's Booket List Friday, June 7 Guest Post at Let Them Read Books Monday, June 10 Review at A Chick Who Reads Tuesday, June 11 Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads Monday, June 17 Review at Locks, Hooks and Books Tuesday, June 18 Feature at Just One More Chapter Friday, June 21 Interview at Passages to the Past Tuesday, June 25 Review at Passages to the Past Monday, July 1 Review at A Darn Good Read Tuesday, July 2 Review at Coffee and Ink Wednesday, July 3 Review at So Many Books, So Little Time Review & Guest Post at Clarissa Reads it All Thursday, July 4 Review & Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages Friday, July 5 Review at CelticLady's Reviews


During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away one paperback copy of the Impaler's Wife! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Book Spotlight & Giveaway

Book Details:

Book Title: Emperors of the Deep by William McKeever
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 320 pages
Genre: Environment, Ocean Wildlife, Marine Life
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release date: June 25, 2019
Tour dates: June 25 to July 12, 2019
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (Intense underwater moments and descriptions of interactions with Sharks both in diver and hunting situation)

Book Description:

In this remarkable groundbreaking book, a documentarian and conservationist, determined to dispel misplaced fear and correct common misconceptions, explores in-depth the secret lives of sharks—magnificent creatures who play an integral part in maintaining the health of the world’s oceans and ultimately the planet.

From the Jaws blockbusters to Shark Week, we are conditioned to see sharks as terrifying cold-blooded underwater predators. But as Safeguard the Seas founder William McKeever reveals, sharks are evolutionary marvels essential to maintaining a balanced ecosystem. We can learn much from sharks, he argues, and our knowledge about them continues to grow. The first book to reveal in full the hidden lives of sharks, Emperors of the Deep examines four species—Mako, Tiger, Hammerhead, and Great White—as never before, and includes fascinating details such as:
Sharks are 50-million years older than trees;
Sharks have survived five extinction level events, including the one that killed off the dinosaurs;
Sharks have electroreception, a sixth-sense that lets them pick up on electric fields generated by living things;
Sharks can dive 4,000 feet below the surface;
Sharks account for only 6 human fatalities per year, while humans kill 100 million sharks per year.

McKeever goes back through time to probe the shark’s pre-historic secrets and how it has become the world’s most feared and most misunderstood predator, and takes us on a pulse-pounding tour around the world and deep under the water’s surface, from the frigid waters of the Arctic Circle to the coral reefs of the tropical Central Pacific, to see sharks up close in their natural habitat. He also interviews ecologists, conservationists, and world-renowned shark experts, including the founders of Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior, the head of the Massachusetts Shark Research Program, and the self-professed “last great shark hunter.”

At once a deep-dive into the misunderstood world of sharks and an urgent call to protect them, Emperors of the Deep celebrates this wild species that hold the key to unlocking the mysteries of the ocean—if we can prevent their extinction from climate change and human hunters.

Buy the Book:

Watch the trailer:


About the Author:

Photo Credit: Debra Somerville
William McKeever is a writer and documentary Filmmaker. He is the founder of Safeguard the Seas, an NGO dedicated to ocean conservation. He is the producer and director of the forthcoming feature-length documentary Man Bites Shark.

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

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends July 20, 2019

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Review & Giveaway: Rogue Most Wanted

Rogue Most Wanted by Janna MacGregor

Publication Date: June 25, 2019
St. Martin's Press
eBook & Paperback; 384 Pages
Series: The Cavensham Heiresses, Book #5
Genre: Historical Romance

Wanted: an engagement of convenience. Found: A noble suitor. Raised on a remote Scottish estate by her adoring grandfather, Lady Theodora Worth has inherited an earldom as well as the land itself. But when an upstart duke challenges her claim to the title and the Ladykyrk estate, Thea is suddenly in need of a husband—in name, at least. An elderly neighbor with a thoroughly modern sensibility and a dashing great-nephew just might be the answer to Thea’s prayers. Except she has no intention of marrying the first man she meets. That would be utterly ridiculous.

It just can’t be him. . . Lord William Cavensham is entirely too devoted to his family’s estate—ever since he was jilted as a lad--to wed, but he agrees to meet the woman his aunt has taken under her wing—and introduce her to possible suitors. But after just one meeting with beautiful, spirited Thea, Will is determined to help her reclaim her title. And even moreso, he can’t stop thinking that perhaps marriage to this bold, passionate woman may be the one thing he’s been missing all along?

My Thoughts:

I have to be honest and tell you that I am of two minds about this book.  So, I'm going to approach this review a little differently.  I'm going to tell you first why I really loved this book, but then I'm going to explain why it bothered me so much.  I have to review it this way because I cannot make up my mind.  Ugh, I feel like the Theodora, I have no idea how I feel.

Why I Loved This Book and Think Everyone Should Read It!!!

The characters and story arc are absolutely fabulous.  I became obsessed with Theodora and Will as people.  Their individual stories captivated my imagination, and not just because of their setting.  Theodora is a strong woman that gave up her life for her family and is being forced to fight a male relative for her rightful inheritance.  The same relative that did nothing to care for her sick grandfather but believes he deserves the estate simply because he's a male descendant.  Then there's Will, a jilted man scared to love, but has a huge heart for his own family.

Their story was whimsical and heartfelt.  The way in which the characters come together and find each other was weirdly beautiful.  They had to get around their own issues and other people's expectations to not only find each other, but to find their true selves.  As the plot developed, Janna MacGregor did a wonderful job of developing each character slowly.  I really got a sense of the transformative power of love.

I also really enjoyed the way the previous books were dealt with.  Usually, if I read a later book in a series without having read any of the previous installments, I have a sense that I am missing something even when all of the relevant information is presented.  In Rogue Most Wanted, I was so consumed by these characters and this story, that I didn't feel anything was missing even though I knew that other characters had intricate back stories.  This only made me want to read the rest of the series, but did not dampen my enjoyment of this book.

What I Did Not Like...

I did not like the sex scenes.  Let me be clear, I can enjoy a good sex scene in a book.  The fact that it's a romance novel, does not bother me.  In fact, I have reviewed books and written long paragraphs about how much I loved the writing of the sex scenes, but here I just couldn't get past it.  Theodora is a sheltered, virgin woman who has never even been kissed.  The story also takes place in a time with rigid courtship etiquette.  For the sake of an interesting romance novel, I get that sex needs to take place.  But, the couple's first kiss turns into a makeout session ending with mutual orgasms.  Not actual intercourse, but, seriously.  There is no earthly way a girl in this time period would have her first kiss proceed in this manner, or at least it didn't appear realistic.  What's worse, the entire first half of the book depends upon Theodora's belief that Will does not want to marry her.  So I'm supposed to believe she would let the first man to ever kiss her put his fingers in her, all while believing he will not marry her. I just didn't get it.

The central complication in the book didn't work for me either.  Theodora and Will meet, she needs to get engaged to further her claim on the estate, and he doesn't want to marry, but his Aunt has set him up with a woman she believes is perfect for him.  So they meet, but both state they have no desire to marry the other.  Why, you ask?  She doesn't want to marry the first man she meets.   She needs to get betrothed quickly, but instead of approaching the situation with this in mind, Theodora arbitrarily decides that she will wait to meet other men before deciding.  Which actually would have worked for me, if she didn't subsequently consider marrying three of Will's friends upon first meeting them.  She wouldn't consider marrying a rich, handsome, family friend that she is instantly attracted to, but will consider complete strangers, all because she met them second.  


I'm glad I read this.  I really enjoyed so much about it that I'm willing and eager to read the other books in the series. I just really hope that the other love stories have more understandable complications and more believable sex scenes. Or maybe I should just let go and get swept away by the romance genre and stop caring about reality.

* Special thanks to Janna MacGregor, St. Martin's Press, and HF Virtual Book Tours for providing a copy of Summer of Sunshine and Margot in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Google Play | iTunes | IndieBound | Kobo

Praise for Rogue Most Wanted

"Effervesces with lighthearted romance...sweet and sultry in equal measures." - Publishers Weekly "[An] emotionally rich, exquisitely wrought tale that superbly celebrates the redemptive power of love." - Booklist

About the Author

Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | BookBub | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 24 Review at My Reading Chronicles Tuesday, June 25 Review at Bibliophile Reviews Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads Wednesday, June 26 Review at Bookish Rantings Review at So Many Books, So Little Time Thursday, June 27 Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit Friday, June 28 Feature at Broken Teepee Review at View from the Birdhouse Saturday, June 29 Review at Jorie Loves a Story Monday, July 1 Excerpt at The Lit Bitch Review at To Read, Or Not to Read Tuesday, July 2 Review at Amy's Booket List Wednesday, July 3 Review at Curling up by the Fire Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots Thursday, July 4 Review at Coffee and Ink Friday, July 5 Feature at What Is That Book About Review at For the Sake of Good Taste


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away two paperback copies of Rogue Most Wanted by Janna MacGregor! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen. Rogue Most Wanted

Monday, July 1, 2019

Review: Summer of Sunshine & Margot by Susan Mallery

ABL Review At-A-Glance
Ø    Title:  Summer of Sunshine and Margot
Ø    My Rating: 3.75
Ø    Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction
Ø    Author:  Susan Mallery
Ø    Format:  Hardcover*
Ø    Publication Date:  June 11, 2019

Compare To:

Goodreads Synopsis

The Baxter sisters come from a long line of women with disastrous luck in love. But this summer, Sunshine and Margot will turn disasters into destiny…

As an etiquette coach, Margot teaches her clients to fit in. But she’s never faced a client like Bianca, an aging movie star who gained fame—and notoriety—through a campaign of shock and awe. Schooling Bianca on the fine art of behaving like a proper diplomat’s wife requires intensive lessons, forcing Margot to move into the monastery turned mansion owned by the actress’s intensely private son. Like his incredible home, Alec’s stony exterior hides secret depths Margot would love to explore. But will he trust her enough to let her in?

Sunshine has always been the good-time sister, abandoning jobs to chase after guys who used her, then threw her away. No more. She refuses to be “that girl” again. This time, she’ll finish college, dedicate herself to her job as a nanny, and she 100 percent will not screw up her life again by falling for the wrong guy. Especially not the tempting single dad who also happens to be her boss.

Master storyteller Susan Mallery weaves threads of family drama, humor, romance and a wish-you-were-there setting into one of the most satisfying books of the year!
My Thoughts...

I’ve never heard of a modern day etiquette coach, but what a wonderful idea.  I can only imagine there are a lot of people, especially those who travel extensively, that would really benefit from etiquette lessons about different countries.  Margot’s job was endlessly fascinating for me.  It seemed part Emily Post part psychologist.  So, reading about that was a lot of fun.

The overall story of this book was very enjoyable.  A lot of summer fun with a light hearted, happily ever after.  The characters were very cute, but lacked depth for me.  Actually, that seemed to be my problem with most of the book.  It didn’t go deep enough for me. 

As you can see by the title, this is a story about two different women.  Sisters who love each other, support each other, and have totally different lives, except when it comes to love.  Apparently, they make very similar mistakes and decisions about men.  But, that is going to change with the coming summer for both of them.  I truly believe this should have been two books, because each story left me wanting so much more, especially in the ending.

I wanted way more from the ending. The sisters shared so much throughout the book, with their dinners and workouts. They talked through their mistakes, emotions, fears, dreams and secrets, to the point that their relationship was my favorite in the novel.  When it came down to the most difficult time in their romantic and professional lives, we don’t even get to see them interact.  In fact, an entire week is left out of the book.  At this point, it feels like we are rushing head first into an ending, that while satisfying in many aspects, needed more exploration.

This is a romance novel, so let’s not pretend we aren’t reading for romance scenes and a happily ever after.  If I wanted heartbreak, I could consult real life easily enough.  So, I wasn’t upset about how fully the ending tied everything into a neat bow.  I just wanted to experience more of it.  One of the couples even gets engaged before their first kiss.  After all of the buildup, I wanted to stay in the moment longer with these characters.  Maybe there could be a follow-up???

Please don’t get me wrong, I really liked this book.  If I didn’t, I would have wanted a longer story or even two separate books.  I will definitely be reading more by Susan Mallery.  The romantic scenes were spot on, with just enough tension that the reader can feel the mounting sexual desire.  This book will not take long for anyone to read and is great for a summer afternoon and a glass of sweet tea.

* Special thanks to Susan Mallery, HQN Books, and TLC Book Tours for providing a copy of Summer of Sunshine and Margot in exchange for an honest review.

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