Saturday, September 30, 2017

Ballad of the Beanstalk ~ Blog Tour Review, Audio Clip, & Giveaway!

Author: Amy McNulty

Narrator: Kaitlin Descutner

Length: 5 hours 50 minutes

Publisher: Patchwork Press

Released: Jul. 18, 2017

Genre:  YA Fantasy

As her fingers move across the strings of her family's heirloom harp, 16-year-old Clarion can forget. She doesn't dwell on the recent passing of her beloved father or the fact that her mother has just sold everything they owned, including that very same instrument that gives Clarion life. She doesn't think about how her friends treat her like a feeble, brittle thing to be protected. She doesn't worry about how to tell the elegant Elena, her best friend and first love, that she doesn't want to be her sweetheart anymore. She becomes the melody and loses herself in the song.

When Mack, a lord's dashing young son, rides into town so his father and Elena's can arrange a marriage between the two youth, Clarion finds herself falling in love with a boy for the first time. Drawn to Clarion's music, Mack puts Clarion and Elena's relationship to the test, but he soon vanishes by climbing up a giant beanstalk that only Clarion has seen. When even the town witch won't help, Clarion is determined to rescue Mack herself and prove once and for all that she doesn't need protecting. But while she fancied herself a savior, she couldn't have imagined the enormous world of danger that awaits her in the kingdom of the clouds.

A prequel to the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk that reveals the true story behind the magical singing harp.

HALL WAYS REVIEW: Author Amy McNulty has created an imaginative rendering of the story before the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. She introduces a lot of characters quickly, and some are not as well fleshed-out as others, so as an audiobook, it is a little hard to keep-up initially. But soon enough, each role is clarified and McNulty gets snaps for coming up with the most novel love triangle (square?) I have seen. I found it interesting and refreshing that the characters being homosexual and bisexual aren’t scandalous in any way. What is scandalous is a young female going out in public without a bonnet on her head and the admonishment of “Do you want the village to think you’re a harlot?” from a concerned adult.

A surprising element to the story is that it is quite violent.  McNulty is fond of describing the “bent necks” and odd angles of the bodies of the deceased -- and there is a high body count, so don’t get too attached to anyone. I have mixed feelings about the necessity and frequency of the violence, but I suppose the story is in keeping with the tradition of many fairy tales in that regard. There are some confusing parts to the various story lines and more than a few unanswered questions, but Ballad of the Beanstalk definitely entertains. Be warned: if you're looking for a happily ever after story, this isn't it.  

The narration by Kaitlin Descutner is mostly well-done, but there are a few things that caught my attention. First, the pacing is a little inconsistent and fluctuated between too fast and just right at 1x speed. Also, and especially as the action increased towards the end of the book, the narrator starts pronouncing main character Clarion’s name (three syllables) as Claron (two syllables). Descutner excels at keeping the (many) characters’ voices distinct from one another – not an easy feat! She does a great job of conveying the ever-changing emotions in each character from sadness to happiness, and even channeling a very (Disney) Ursula-like voice as Jacosa is teetering on madness.

I imagine this one might work a little better for me if I had read it with my eyes instead of my ears, but it’s worth a look either way. It’s short and engaging and the premise is unique, which in itself is enough to keep a reader listening these days.

Thank you to Audiobookworm Promotions for providing me a free download in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. 


Amy McNulty is a freelance writer and editor from Wisconsin with an honors degree in English. She was first published in a national scholarly journal (The Concord Review) while in high school and currently writes professionally about everything from business marketing to anime. In her down time, you can find her crafting stories with dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings.
Narrator Bio
In 2010, I graduated from California University....of Pennsylvania (yes, you read that correctly) with a BA in Theatre and Dance. I have been a professional actress for 7 years in Columbus, OH working in both Musical Theatre shows and Dramatic plays ranging from Classic, Rock & Roll, Modern, British, American Southern, etc. I work as a Children's Theatre teacher as well as a Commercial Actress where I specialize in voice acting, photo, commercial and tutorial video work. I am interested in new projects and pursuing new opportunities.

I am a big, avid reader, and listen to audio books more than the radio in my car. My favorite genres are historical fiction, fiction, nonfiction and biographies/ memoirs. This is a new endeavor for me, and I am thrilled to explore different characters through storytelling. Reading is a big passion of mine. Bring on the books!

Ballad of the Beanstalk Giveaway: $10 Amazon Gift Card

Sep. 27th:
Adventures Thru Wonderland

Sep. 28th:
Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

Sep. 29th:
Jazzy Book Review

Sep. 30th:
Hall Ways Blog
Notes from 'Round the Bend
Turning Another Page

Oct. 1st:
Up 'Til Dawn Book Blog

Oct. 2nd:
History from a Woman's Perspective
The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Oct. 3rd:
The Book Addict's Reviews
It's Novel to Me

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Missing ~ ~ Blog Tour Promo, Guest Post, & Giveaway!

The Missing by Jerico Lenk
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books

Scroll down for giveaway! One winner will win an Echo Dot!

Dark proclivities, excess, and outlandish curiosities prevail in 1890's London. Around the city, a battle rages between the living and the dead. The Black Cross, tasked to keep the peace, are quickly losing ground.

Sixteen-year-old Willow Winchester, lives life as a boy called "Will" in his father's house of distinguished ladies, all but invisible to the wealthy Londoners who frequent.. It's an easy ruse since his mother's death left his father's attention to fall upon business matters. But this isn't his only secret.

When Will unwittingly becomes involved in a Black Cross ghost hunt, his uncanny ability to sense supernatural beings comes to light and the Black Cross wants him in their service. Suddenly, Will's free to be himself.

But such freedom will come with a price, as Will fights for the acceptance of the only father he's ever known.

Now, part of a team of misfits and unlikely allies, Will finds he isn't the only one keeping secrets. Someone does not want him to uncover the truth about those who aren’t just missing from the world of the living, but missing from history itself.
Can he find the Missing before he ends up becoming one of them?

The World of The Missing
Guest Post by Jerico Lenk

The Missing is a little bit Ghost Hunters, a little bit Sherlock Holmes, and as dedicated to an accurate period representation as possible even when it comes to sex and drugs -- the Victorians were bent on proclaiming their own propriety, but trust me, they were far from as prudish as they wished they were.

There are a lot of real world events -- the Cleveland Street Scandal, the Christmas events in Westminster -- and while the Black Cross itself is fictional (or is it?), along with the West London Division of Psychics and whatnot, the Cross is situated amongst real world organizations, such as the Society for Psychical Research and Metaphysical Society, founded in order to study psychic and paranormal phenomena. Seances and mediums were huge in late Victorian London; church-going had become a ceremonial sort of thing on holidays, or when convenient, and there was a surge in Spiritualism in the younger London culture and aristocracy.

Two books used a lot in world-building are How to Be a Victorian: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life (Ruth Goodman) and Lost London: 1870-1945 (Philip Davies). Amazing, informative, fascinating books. There are so many places in The Missing inspired by actual streets and buildings highlighted in Lost London; look them up. The nitty-gritty of Victorian daily life is explored in such detail in Goodman’s book, you’ll find yourself telling everyone about how mascara was used for men’s mustaches, or deodorant was called dusting powder -- that even the Victorians had tooth-paste. I am a super “weird historical fact” person, so Goodman’s work is just, unf. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Undergraduate studying Creative Writing, Classics, Russian and Western European History. Unabashed weeb probably burning incense and drinking too much coffee at this very moment. Out for queer representation and great sex hair. Beyond ready for the upcoming Vampire Chronicles TV series.

Lenk writes Young Adult/New Adult, spec fiction, poetry, and screenplays. He is currently unagented.

His poems have appeared at/in USF Tampa’s Thread Literary Inquiry, biannual 6x6 creative writing showcase, and placed second in National Poetry Month 2015; Tethered By Letters’ F(r)iction Spring 2016 poetry contest finalist; winner of the 2017 Bettye Newman Poetry award.

One (1) winner will receive an Echo Dot


Monday, September 25, 2017

An Inconvenient Beauty ~ ~ ~ ~ Blog Tour, Author Interview, & Giveaway!

Hawthorne House, Book 4

  Genre: Regency Romance 
Publisher: Bethany House
Date of Publication: September 5, 2017
Number of Pages: 384

Scroll down for giveaway!

Griffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, so he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. While he's certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, she is strangely elusive, and he can't seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge.

Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, she has no choice but to agree to a bargain that puts her at odds with all her romantic hopes—as well as her conscience. And the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she regrets the unpleasant obligation that prevents her from any dream of a future with him.

As all Griffith's and Isabella's long-held expectations are shaken to the core, can they set aside their pride and fear long enough to claim a happily-ever-after?


Praise for An Inconvenient Beauty:
“With the latest superbly written installment in her Hawthorne House series, RITA award-winning Hunter once again proves she has the key to inspirational-romance and traditional-Regency readers' hearts as she gifts them with another gracefully executed love story that delivers all of the richly nuanced characters, impeccably researched historical plotting, and sweet romance they could ever crave.”

“The final book in the Hawthorne House series brings Hunter's saga to a sigh-worthy conclusion. These family members have become like real people, and although readers will celebrate that the characters have found love, it is bittersweet to say goodbye. The plot moves briskly, yet the romance never feels forced. The period details are, as always, charming, and entrench the reader in the culture and traditions of the era.”RT Book Reviews

“Hunter's final installment in the Hawthorne House series will delight those already invested in the series as well as any reader who enjoys stories set in Regency-era England. . . . As the London Season plays out, secrets are revealed, past loves return, and hearts align—despite a fair amount of underhanded conniving--to create a fitting finale to the series and a lovely addition to the Regency genre.”Publishers Weekly starred review

Amazon ┃ B&N┃ Baker Book HouseCBDLifeWay

Interview with Author Kristi Ann Hunter
(Though the author had intended to have a video interview for LSBBT, due to Hurricane Irma's impact in her area, she was unable to record it. Please enjoy this written interview instead.)

Where did your love of reading and writing come from?
Books have been part of my life for as long as I can remember. Before, I can remember, actually. My mother tells me I used to look at the picture books and make up the words before I learned to read. There isn't a time when I can't remember having a book or two close at hand. In school, I always loved the creative writing assignments best, but it wasn't until an author visited my elementary school and told us that his first book started out as a fourth grade creative writing assignment that I got the idea to write books myself. It was many years and many stuttered attempts before I would see that dream come to fruition, but the belief that I could one day accomplish it has always lingered with the kind of ingrained faith only a young child can manufacture.

What cultural value do you see in storytelling?
I believe stories are the greatest unifier we have, both within a culture and between cultures. Storytelling preserves a culture's history as well as providing a way to pass core values and beliefs on to future generations. Stories are also a wonderful, and in my opinion the best, way to learn about people and cultures that are different. When you read, watch, or listen to a story, you step into someone else's shoes, just for a moment. You get to see things from another perspective, experience things from a new position, and learn more about the other person and yourself at the same time.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?
An Inconvenient Beauty contains subplots that revolve around two elements of real history - the Apothecary Act and the Battle of Waterloo. That meant parts of my timeline were already determined for me. Shaping the story around those pivotal moments was difficult, but it was also fun to work pieces of those historic moments into the book and I found them more of a help than a hindrance.

How does your book relate to your faith?
I struggled with God over control for a very long time. Feeling like I had to do everything myself kept me from learning what amazing plans God had in store. The older I got, the more God would show me the things He wanted to do that I couldn't do in my own strength and understanding.  Learning to hold my life with a looser grip and let God make things happen was a difficult but ultimately rewarding lesson. I put a lot of that personal growth into this story, giving both of my characters elements of that same struggle and growth.

What projects are you working on at the present?
Right now I'm working on a brand new series that will start releasing next year. The series is called Haven Manor and it's still set in Regency England. Unlike the Hawthorne House series, this one will be taking place mostly in the country, away from the city life of London and the sparkling balls and parties. The series will focus on three women, hoping to use the lessons learned from past mistakes to help other people rescue their lives from similar situations. It's been a big change for me, but I'm very excited to share these stories with my readers.

How has your formal education influenced or impacted your writing?
I have a degree in Computer Science, specializing in software engineering and database management. For ten years, I worked in that field. At first glance that would seem counterintuitive to a career in fiction writing, but a lot of the skills I learned for programming have come into play. Instead of seeing how data moves through computer programs and how different pieces of code work together, I look at plot elements and how they can twist and connect. Sometimes it means my stories get ridiculously complicated during the initial writing process and I have to simplify things, but it also makes writing in series easier. At the beginning, I can see how some pieces of story will come into play chapters and sometimes even books later.

Do you have a mantra for writing and/or for life?
I do. And I actually discovered it while writing my first book. When I started to take writing seriously, I did a lot of thinking about what I wanted to write about. One thing kept coming back to mind and that eventually solidified into a mantra that I use for myself, my family, and my writing.
Always remember to be the YOU God made you to be.
I spent too much of my life trying to be someone else or someone I thought others expected of me instead of embracing the way God made me. That's something I hope to save my children and my readers from doing.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
I always hesitate to say never because as soon as those words come out of my mouth I can hear God laughing in the distance. However, I think I'm fairly safe in saying I'd never write about zombies because ew! Biblical fiction is also something I don't see myself going into because I believe that takes a certain skill and calling that I simply do not have. Subject-wise though, I would be very surprised if I ever found myself writing about solving a murder. Threat of murder? Absolutely. Actual dead bodies on the page? That would be a very surprising day.
Suspense writers will often tell you to solve every sticky plot point by killing someone, but I don't think I have it in me. Just thinking about it makes me shiver.

If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be? In four words or less, tell us why.
A horse. Because they're graceful and strong but look like they're built all wrong.
And… I went over four words. Not surprising. I never keep things under word count. I'm also not sure regular horses are in zoos so this question could be a total failure. 

If you could speak with any accent from anywhere in the world, what would you choose and why?
Scottish! When I was in high school, a Scottish teenage drama group performed for the schools in my area and I was enthralled. It took me a few minutes to settle in to listening to them, but then I could have sat there all day. English and Australian accents are amazing as well, but I think Scottish sort of falls between the two of them so I'd go with that. Plus, I've always kind of wished I had red hair.

Kristi Ann Hunter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in computer science but always knew she wanted to write. Kristi is the author of the Hawthorne House series and a 2016 RITA Award winner and Christy Award finalist. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia.

September 25-October 4, 2017
(U.S. Only)

Author Interview
Excerpt 1
Top Ten List
Excerpt 2
Top Five List

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Wondrous World of Violet Barnaby ~ ~ Book Blast & $100 Giveaway!

The Wondrous World of Violet Barnaby

Violet Barnaby searches for the joy in life after losing her mother in this sweet and funny follow-up to The Charming Life of Izzy Malone.

Violet Barnaby is a having a blue Christmas. She’s still grieving the loss of her mother, and to make things worse, her dad has just married Melanie Harmer, a.k.a. the meanest teacher at Dandelion Hollow Middle School. But on the day Violet and her dad are packing up and moving into the new house they’ll share with Melanie and Melanie’s two children, Violet finds a letter her mother wrote to her before she died, asking Violet to enjoy Christmas, along with a Christmas Wish List—things her mom wants her to do during the holiday season. On the list are exactly the kinds of things Violet doesn’t want to do this year, like Be Someone’s Secret Santa; Give Someone the Gift of Your Time: Volunteer; and Bake Christmas Cookies.

Violet shows the letter to her friend Izzy’s Aunt Mildred, who calls a meeting of the Charm Girls, a club Izzy and Violet belong to along with their friends, Daisy and Sophia. Aunt Mildred decides she will give them each a charm to put on their bracelet if they do all of the tasks on the Christmas Wish List, which Violet is not too happy about. She’d rather forget about the list completely, but feels compelled to honor her mother’s wishes.

And when Izzy’s crush confides a big secret to Violet, Violet feels like she is stuck between her best friend and the boy who she just might have a crush on, too…

 Scroll down for $100 Giveaway!

Praise for The Wondrous World of Violet Barnaby

"[an] emotionally perceptive novel of grief and recovery." - Kirkus

You'll fall in love with Violet and love every minute of living in her wondrous world! - Stephanie Faris

Author Jenny Lundquist

Jenny Lundquist was born and raised in Huntington Beach, California, where she spent her time unsuccessfully learning how to surf. When she was younger, she wanted to be either a rock star or a published author. After she taped herself singing and listened to it on playback she decided she'd better opt for the writing route. Jenny is the author of multiple YA and Middle Grade titles including Seeing Cinderella, The Charming Life of Izzy Malone, The Wondrous World of Violet Barnaby and the forthcoming The Carnival of Wishes and Dreams (2019).


amazon or paypal
$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 10/10/17
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Blackout ~ ~ Spotlight Tour, Book Trailer, & Giveaway!

Book Title: Blackout by Lawrence Johnson Sr.
Category: Adult Fiction; 126 pages
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Detective
Publisher: Self-published
Release date: March 2011
Content Rating: PG

Book Description:
Alexander Steele is a private detective turned night club owner in the city of Philadelphia. Steele and his longtime girlfriend Shakia's plans for him to retire are derailed when his cousin brings him an encrypted travel drive. The drive is opened by Steele's hacker friend Stan. A few days earlier every transformer in Canada had been shut down by the terrorist. The drive in Steele's possession gave details as to how the event would happen. What made it even more frightening was that the documents on the drive were created three months before the actual event; Steele finds himself drawn into the well-crafted mind games of a madman known as Chameleon, an American terrorist.

The Chameleon's goal is to shut down the country by collapsing the economy of the United States. From the snow covered streets of Montreal to the tropical beaches of Nassau, Steele follows a trail of clues and dead bodies. As he gathers more puzzle pieces, Steele inches closer hoping to reveal and thwart the plot to bring down the U S government. He finds himself narrowly surviving constant attempts on his life. The dramatic face-off between Steele and Chameleon takes place in downtown Philadelphia. How will it end? Find out in Blackout, now on Audible.

Also Available on Audiobook:
Release Date: 07-13-17
Publisher: Lawrence Johnson Sr.
Written by: Lawrence Johnson Sr.
Narrated by: Alistair Dryburgh
Length: 4 hrs and 9 mins
Series: Alexander Steele Mysteries, Book 1
Unabridged Audiobook

Buy the Book:

Watch the Trailer:

Meet the Author:

Born and raised in the city of Brotherly Love, I have been writing for nearly 10 years. I am the author of the 2012 scifi novel Escape 2 Earth. In early 2009, I completed the second installment in the the Escape 2 Earth trilogy called Return 2 Earth also several short stories including a fantasy story titled Dimensions in Time and a scifi story titled Planet of Doom.

In 2011, I completed my first detective novel called Blackout. Before writing Escape 2 Earth, I began putting together a collection of inspirational and motivational quotes titled Observations from the Edge of Society. I am currently working on the final book in the Escape 2 Earth series called Earth 2, Redemption, which will be completed in 2017.

Enter the Giveaway!

Win one of four audiobook copies of Blackout! 
(open to USA and Canada)
Ends Sept 30, 2017

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Sept 11 - Library of Clean Reads - book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 11 - Christy's Cozy Corners - book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 12 - Working Mommy Journal - book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 12 - 100 Pages A Day - book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 13 - The Book Drealms - book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 13 - 
The Irresponsible Reader - book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 14 - JBronder Book Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 15 - Bound 2 Escape - book spotlight
Sept 15 - 
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! - spotlight / giveaway
Sept 18 - Elsie's Audiobook Digest - book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 18 - 
Literary Flits - book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 19 - A Mama's Corner of the World - book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 19 - 
Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 20 - Rockin' Book Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 21 - 411 on Books, Authors and Publishing News - book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 21 - 
Hall Ways Blog - book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 22 - Adventures Thru Wonderland - book spotlight / giveaway

Hall Ways disclaimer: This book is featured on Hall Ways Blog because the premise sounds interesting, and I love sharing interesting books. It has not been read or reviewed, so I cannot vouch for the quality of the content.