Monday, October 29, 2018

Cash Kills ~ Audio Book Blog Tour Review & Giveaway!

Narrated by Kieren Calland Metts
Publisher: Dark Chocolate Press LLC
Released: April 24, 2018
Length: 9 hours 40 minutes
Sub-Genres: Modern Detective / Mystery

A double murder. A mysterious inheritance. One PI is about to follow the money all the way into a den of thieves…

After surviving a bullet, Angelina Bonaparte was certain she could handle any case that came her way. But when her next client walks through the door with an unexplainable seven-figure inheritance after the death of her parents, the private investigator wonders if she's in over her head. After all, when she visits her client's family attorney, Angelina discovers yet another bloody crime scene.

With the help of her new flame, Angelina follows the clues into an underworld of war-plundered artifacts, stolen treasures, and deadly consequences. As their last lead grows colder, the PI must catch the killer before an endless cycle of murderous greed gets her client killed.

Cash Kills is the second book in the suspenseful Angelina Bonaparte Mysteries series. If you like hard-as-painted-nails female detectives, historical mysteries, and twists and turns you won’t see coming, then you’ll love Nanci Rathbun’s loaded crime thriller.

Buy Cash Kills to follow the money trail to a sassy, suspenseful mystery today!
Buy Links

HALL WAYS REVIEW: Audio book review. Author Nancy Rathbun is back with a second book in the Angelina Bonaparte Mysteries series.  Cash Kills comes to readers with a new, enticing mystery, a steadily increasing body count, and a relationship for main character Angie that’s moving to the next level. Though the book is part of a series (and I loved book one, Truth Kills), it easily stands alone with Rathbun giving plenty of background to get readers up-to-date.

“Put not your trust in money, but put your money in trust.”
-- Oliver Windell Holmes

Cash Kills has a fascinating premise and readers really want to know what’s up with this woman and all that money – and so does Angelina! Once the digging begins, people start dying and an intricate and long existing web of criminal activity begins to get exposed.  This story goes into some dark places as it pulls in dealing with the treatment of Muslims and victims of Sarajevo. Rathbun took me out of my cozy novel comfort zone by bringing reality in – and it brought me to tears. The author even provides some notes at the end with sources/resources for information about Sarajevo. Cash Kills has a diverse cast of characters and raises cultural awareness not only with the story line, but with the basic cast of characters and their Sicilian and Polish roots.  

Readers get to better know Angie’s family and the dynamic of her tightly knit Sicilian family. As is the case in the prior book, women of a certain age will enjoy Angie’s relationships with her now adult children and her grandchildren. The best part is that though Angie cherishes her roles as daughter, mom, and grandma, she still retains her femininity, identity, and sexuality. And wow – her sense of style! It is fun that readers always know exactly how Angelina looks. Some may not care for that level of detail, but I find it fun hearing her fashion choices made depending on the vibe of each situation.

Since our fifty-something Angie comes from a mafia family, it’s often a bit of a quandary for her to separate herself from the mafia ways of getting information, providing protection, and financing deals. Angie is clever enough to use those perks legally to help her investigations, but it’s the mafia, so she really doesn’t have a choice.  Ted Wukowski, Angie’s policeman boyfriend, also has to cleverly deal with his girlfriend’s mafia ties and propensity for finding dead people. This provides plenty of opportunity for misunderstanding and make-ups.

“While I missed the sensual pleasure of handling
catalog cards in their narrow wooden drawers,
I appreciated being able to search based on key words.”

BONUS POINTS AWARDED: Angelina is a former librarian, and it comes through as the good thing it is, loud and clear. Her vocabulary (she uses sybarite! Yaaass!) is fabulous and her thought process leads her to find answers at an academic library, which gives readers the awesome character of Lilly the librarian! She is cast in the positive, helpful light where she belongs and is a hoot; I really hope Lilly returns in the next installment.

“A morning without caffeine is simply not worth living.”

Yes, bonus, bonus points are being awarded. Angie repeatedly gives credit where credit is due and that’s to her morning coffee. A woman after my own heart. That is all.

My only gripe with Cash Kills is that readers get an info dump, via the police, that spells out the complicated scheme behind the money and murders. It's logical that Angie would learn the information that way, but it felt forced. Even so, I highly recommend this series thus far, especially to women approaching or in mid-life. We rarely find ourselves in books as kick-ass main characters, and Angelina shows us that we are capable and even formidable in all kinds of roles.  She’s a great reminder that we can define ourselves however we want.

ABOUT THE NARRATION:  Narrator Kieran Calland Metts returns to perform Cash Kills and IS the voice of Angelina Bonaparte. As in book one, she continues the choice to be very matter-of-fact in voicing Angelina whether she’s talking about a gory death scene or a sexy love scene. Metts makes Angelina sound pragmatic, slightly sarcastic, but not unemotional – perfect to match Angie’s librarian background. (After all, librarians see and deal with a lot of s**t and must solve the problems without falling to pieces.) There are a few places where Metts falls out of her accent, but she voices the international characters well. Technically, there are some uneven volume issues here and there, but overall, Metts does an excellent job and makes me more than ready to listen to the next installment in the Angelina Bonaparte Mysteries series, Honor Kills.  
Thank you to Audiobookworm Promotions and the author for providing me an audio download in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give.

I received this audio book as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Nanci Rathbun. The gifting of this audio book did not affect my opinion of it.

Nanci Rathbun is a lifelong reader of mysteries – historical, contemporary, futuristic, paranormal, hard-boiled, cozy … you can find them all on her bookshelves. She brings logic and planning to her writing from a background as an IT project manager, and attention to characters and dialog from her second career as a Congregationalist minister.

Nanci grew up an Army brat, living in Germany, France and Korea, as well as several states in the U.S. After her dad retired from the service, the family settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There, Nanci raised her daughter and son, while working at AT&T. She never expected to move, but when her second grandchild was on the way, she wanted to be closer. One of her greatest joys is hearing her three granddaughters shout "Nana" when she comes in their front door in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Nanci and her Maltipoo, Teeny, now live in Wellington, Colorado. No matter where she makes her home, she will always be a Green Bay Packers fan.
Narrator Bio

Kieren Calland Metts is addicted to audio books. She has almost 1,000 in her library and has listened to most of them! She tends toward mysteries of all kinds, especially cozies, and YA dystopia.

She grew up a diplomat brat, traveling to tours in Baghdad, Iraq; and Kabul, Afghanistan. After several more moves in the U.S., the family settled in Ohio.

Kieren has a background in copy editing, book & newspaper design, and web production, adores arts and crafts, and has a weakness for fluffy orange kitties.

$25 Amazon Gift Card⎮Runs Oct. 16th-Nov. 5th⎮Open internationally

The Angelina Bonaparte Mysteries Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card

Oct. 23rd:
The Book Junkie Reads . . .
Lynn's Romance Enthusiasm

Oct. 24th:
Dab of Darkness Book Reviews
A Page to Turn

Oct. 25th:
Bound 4 Escape

Oct. 26th:
Jazzy Book Reviews

Oct. 27th:
2 Girls and A Book
Turning Another Page
Page Princess

Oct. 28th:
Writers N Authors
Book Addict
T's Stuff

Oct. 29th:
Lilly's Book World
The Book Addict's Reviews
Hall Ways Blog


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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Lake Effect ~ Book Blog Tour, Author Interview, & Giveaway!

Lake Effect
By Nicole Tone

Publisher Pen Name Publishing
Published September 25, 2018
Pages 308

After the death of her fiance, Sophie Daniels is struggling to keep herself together. Painting is the only way she’s able to clear her head and stay grounded. For her art isn’t a hobby — it’s her religion. With a semester away from finishing graduate school, she knows that, despite her loss, things are going to get better. In fact, her thesis adviser has even taken a special interest in her. Sophie’s convinced that she’s found the mentor that she’s been looking for. When he shows he’s interested in her in more than just a student/teacher way, she obliges him. Until his wife leaves him.

Sophie learns the hard way what happens when a man cannot take responsibility for his own actions.

Now she’s back to square one in pulling herself back together. She hasn’t just lost her fiancé anymore: she’s lost parts of herself she’s not sure she’ll ever get back.

Like her ability to create.

Lake Effect is a raw exploration of human emotion and what it takes to save your own life.


Purchase through Amazon

What literary world would you love to visit for a day?
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’m a die-hard Potter fan (Deathly Hallows tattoo and all) and even though I don’t think a day is enough to get enough magic, I’d still take it.

What book have you read that has most influenced your life and writing?
That’s a tie between The Bell Jar and White Oleander. Both books don’t shy away from difficult topics. Their main characters own their voice, their trauma, their need to survive. Both Janet Fitch and Sylvia Plath have very distinct ways of writing, too, that incorporate poetry into prose. The results are beautiful, raw, real stories about strong women who you root for even in their moments of weakness.

When you write, do you listen to music or do you prefer silence?
I make playlists for every project I work on! Music helps me keep a scene’s mood and tone even. There are many songs I’ve put on repeat for hours just to get a scene or chapter right.

Are you a morning writer, afternoon writer, or an evening writer? Does the time of day you write impact your writing?
Evening for sure. I like writing under the cover of darkness. Everything is quiet: the world, social media. There are less distractions and it’s way easier for me to focus on my personal projects once I’m done with my other work.

Tell us a little about your plans for the future.
More poetry and more novels! It’s just a matter of when I can actually get around to finishing up projects. I have a few ideas kicking around, in genres I haven’t written in before, but I’ve been working on Lake Effect for almost a decade so right now I’m enjoying this book finally being out in the world.

What steps do you take in drafting an outline?
I don’t write up an outline until I have the first draft done. I want to make sure my projects are character-driven, not plot-driven, because I find it’s easier for me to stay true to characters this way. Once I have that first draft written, I plot out everything to make sure timelines make sense and there’s consistency. This also shows me where I need to add to the book and how sub-plots would affect the book.

Is there another genre you are interested in trying out?
I’ve been reading a TON of domestic and psychological thrillers lately and I’d love to try my hand at something with a good mystery, and big twists, at the heart of the story.

Nicole Tone has always had a passion for writing. She has her BA in Creative Writing and Literature and an MFA in Writing. Nicole is a freelance writer and editor with pieces in Heels Down Magazine, Hello Giggles, Femsplain, and more. She is also the editor-in-chief of Pen Name Publishing.

When she isn't writing, she likes to dabble in photography, horseback riding, and traveling. She has a deep love for herbal tea, craft beer, and good coffee.
Nicole lives in Buffalo, NY, with her husband, three cats, and two very large dogs.

One Signed Copy of Lake Effect +
A specialty Lake Effect candle made by Novelly Yours!

Blog Tour Schedule:
10/22 A Striking Viper Author Interview
10/23 Where Genres Collide Excerpt
10/23 Rebecca Cahill Promo
10/24 The Faerie Review        Review
10/24 The Page Unbound        Review
10/25 Hall Ways Blog Author Interview
10/26 Rebecca Cahill Review
10/26 Books4Jessica       Excerpt

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Monday, October 22, 2018

A Bully on the School Bus ~ Book Blog Tour Review & Giveaway!

Illustrated by Andy Hoang
Genre: Children's fiction, 26 pages
Categories: Education, Social Skills & School Life
Publisher: CreateSpace
Release date: Sept 2015
Content Rating: G

Nicole is the main character in the book "A Bully on the School Bus." Nicole is a young girl who rides the school bus to school every day. It wasn't until Nicole started experiencing problems with another bus-rider named Dylan when she became uncomfortable being on this bus. Her experience with Dylan is a form of bullying, and she was frightened. After several incidences, Nicole made her parent aware and found a way to solve the problem.

To read reviews, please visit Dr. Mildren Peyton's page on iRead Book Tours.


HALL WAYS REVIEW: In A Bully on the Bus by Dr. Mildred D. Peyton, readers are taken into an all-too-familiar scenario of when a bully targets a particular child for no reason. Initially, readers may speculate it is a one-time incident – Dylan’s having a bad day and acting mean. No harm done, right? As is often the case with witnesses to bullying, they watch and don’t get involved. Even as Nicole may be talking herself into that very same conclusion – it’s a one-time thing – just below the surface, there is a niggling feeling that this isn’t the end of it.  

Author Peyton spends a considerable amount of time underscoring that Nicole is a happy child with happy friends and a safe, happy home. Her parents are loving and supportive, and they pay attention to her words and take them seriously. This background shows that even the kids who seem to have it all can be victims of bullying. I found it odd that Nicole told her mother, “a boy on the school bus made me feel uncomfortable,” yet the mother didn’t address it, or at least probe for more information, on the spot.  The wording alone makes my mommy spider senses tingle, and I find it hard to believe that a mom wouldn’t at least do some minor inquiry to be assured the issue wasn’t more serious.

Crayon drawings by the author’s daughters, Leah and Jada, start and finish A Bully on the Bus and make the book feel authentic. The kids’ drawings will help young readers feel a common ground and better connect to the story. Illustrator Andy Hoang returns to provide the rest of the colorful eye candy. Most of the pages are fully covered with the text inserted over the illustrations. This makes each page engaging and will encourage readers to dwell on the pages. The softer, muted colors and edges are a good choice to complement the story and counter any anxiety that may build for kids who have been in similar bullying situations. The characters are multicultural, and their expressions properly convey the situations and emotions. The exception to that is the depiction of the bully; readers see him angry, but we never see the bully’s eyes, and his mouth doesn’t change when he’s called-out for his behavior, making it difficult to believe Dylan is reformed.

The dialogue is natural and well-written, and the book is cleanly edited and proofread -- SO important in books for children. However, as is the case with Dr. Peyton’s book Sophia Writes to her Bully, the resolution feels a bit too neat. Bullies are rarely stopped with a simple admonishment from an adult, and my feeling upon finishing the story is that Dylan will find new ways and places to bother Nicole. It would be interesting to use this book as a read-aloud and then ask kids what they think happened the next day on the bus. 

The book concludes with definitions and action tips for kids, parents, and educators reinforces. There is also a page of web resources for further exploration on the topic of bullying (QR codes would be a great addition here for teachers and librarians to use the book as the basis for a lesson.) What A Bully on the Bus does well is show that bullying behavior needs to be discussed and children need to talk to adults when it happens. The book is perfect as a read-along/read-aloud and for use as a springboard to discussions about how to recognize and react to bullying.  
Thank you to the author and iRead Book Tours for providing me a lovely print copy in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. 


Dr. Mildred Peyton is the President and Founder of Peyton Consulting, LLC. Dr. Peyton established her consulting firm, which was initially geared towards school bullying services, in March 2016. She was inspired to create Peyton Consulting and become a children's author on bullying after completing her doctoral research study entitled, "Exploring the Meaning of School Bullying Among Parents of Victimized Children."

During her undergraduate internship in 2002-2003 at Salisbury Middle School in Wicomico County, Dr. Peyton and her team developed and facilitated a mentoring program, providing one-on-one conflict resolution and mediating skills to students who were identified by the program coordinator with ongoing needs of behavioral issues. One of the key/primary areas Dr. Peyton and the other mentors focused on was educating and addressing bullying issues with bullies and victims. And in her graduate program, Dr. Peyton also facilitated a school bullying focus group in 2005 at Maryvale Elementary School in Montgomery County, to teach participants about bullying behaviors and how to avoid bullying others. She also attended several bullying workshops to learn about the latest studies while working with the students. Her passion on this topic followed her even as she served as a member on the Committee on Hate/Violence at Montgomery County Office of Human Rights, in 2013. There she developed a brochure for students and parents for the annual bullying symposium and, provided rich knowledge and skills on this topic throughout the year.

Today, the company has expanded its services to target workplace bullying as well. With the experiences of others and Dr. Peyton's personal experience with adult bullying in the workplace (which caused her to resign from her employer in 2016), she believes attention, guidance, and solutions are also critical in this area. Dr. Peyton holds a Ph.D. in Human and Social Services with a concentration in Social Policy Analysis & Planning. She has a Bachelor's degree in Social Work and Sociology and a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology. Dr. Peyton is committed to using her knowledge and skills to influence positive change among students and adults.

Connect with Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram


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Oct 8   - Library of Clean Reads - review of Sophia Writes / author interview / giveaway
Oct 9   - A Mama's Corner of the World - review of Sophia Writes / giveaway
Oct 10 - I Love A Good Book -  review of Sophia Writes and Bully on Schoolbus/ giveaway
Oct 11 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review of Bully on School Bus / giveaway
Oct 15 - 100 Pages A Day - review of Sophia Writes / giveaway
Oct 15 - 
Rockin' Book Reviews - review of Sophia Writes / guest post / giveaway
Oct 16 - 
Rockin' Book Reviews - review of Bully on School Bus / giveaway
Oct 17 - Reading is My Passion - review of Sophia Writes / giveaway
Oct 18 - Library of Clean Reads - review of Bully on School Bus / giveaway
Oct 18 - 
Locks, Hooks and Books - review of Sophia Writes / guest post / giveaway
Oct 18 - 
Books Direct - review of Bully on School Bus / giveaway
Oct 19 - Reading is My Passion - review of Bully on School Bus / giveaway
Oct 19 - 
Hall Ways Blog - review of Sophia Writes / giveaway
Oct 19 - 
One Frugal Girl - review of Sophia Writes / giveaway
Oct 22 - Hall Ways Blog - review of Bully on School Bus / giveaway
Oct 22 - Books Direct - review of Sophia Writes / giveaway
Oct 22 - 
Reading Authors - review of A Bully on School Bus / giveaway
Oct 23 - Bookworm for Kids - review of Sophia Writes / author interview / giveaway
Oct 24 - Bookworm for Kids - review of Bully on School Bus / giveaway
Oct 25 - One Frugal Girl - review of Bully on School Bus / giveaway
Oct 26 - 100 Pages A Day - review of Bully on School Bus / giveaway
Oct 26 - 
Locks, Hooks and Books - review of Bully on School Bus / giveaway
TBD     - Reading Authors - review of Sophia Writes / giveaway
TBD     - 
Breath Of Life - review of Sophia Writes / guest post / giveaway
TBD     - Breath Of Life - review of Bully on School Bus / giveaway


Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Whole Damn Cheese ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Promo & Review!

Genre: Biography / Texana 
Publisher: Texas Christian University Press 
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Publication Date: October 12, 2018
Number of Pages: 160 pages with B&W photos

Anecdotes about Maggie Smith abound, but Bill Wright’s The Whole Damn Cheese is the first book devoted entirely to the woman whose life in Big Bend country has become the stuff of legend. For more than twenty years, Maggie Smith served folks on both sides of the border as doctor, lawyer, midwife, herbalist, banker, self-appointed justice of the peace, and coroner. As she put it, she was “the whole damn cheese” in Hot Springs, Texas. A beloved figure serving the needs of scores of people in Big Bend country, she was also an accomplished smuggler with a touch of romance as well as larceny in her heart. Maggie’s family history is a history of the Texas frontier, and her story outlines the beginnings and early development of Big Bend National Park. Her travels between Boquillas, San Vincente, Alpine, and Hot Springs define Maggie’s career and illustrate her unique relationships with the people of the border. Vividly capturing the rough individualism and warm character of Maggie Smith, author Bill Wright demonstrates why this remarkable frontier woman has become an indelible figure in the history of Texas.


HALL WAYS REVIEW: Admittedly, I have a bit of a love affair with Big Bend. It’s one of the most dramatic and beautiful landscapes I’ve seen, and hiking there feels otherworldly — a complete escape from this city girl’s realities.  It has been many years since I visited, but since reading Yonderings:Trails and Memories of the Big Bend by Ben English, I have longed to return there.

Sadly, I haven’t yet physically returned to Big Bend, but I did return via Bill Wright’s The Whole Damn Cheese: Maggie Smith, Border Legend. Much to my surprise and delight, Ben English made some appearances in the book, as he is the great nephew of the book’s namesake. I shouldn’t have been surprised, given the people of Big Bend country have long established, common roots. The story behind the title of the book is revealed quickly, and it sets the tone for this no-nonsense woman’s life. Maggie Smith was of a heartier stock than most and didn’t  just survive in Big Bend, but thrived — no matter what barriers or hardships were thrown her way.

“If you can’t share something you have, then it really isn’t worth having.” — Maggie Smith

Author Bill Wright has done his research and what shines through is a picture of a frontier woman who not only bucked the system, but who was allowed to buck the system - unheard of for a woman, primarily dealing with men in those times. Not only did she make and follow her own rules in dealing with the governments and people of both the United States and Mexico, she was respected as a leader and businesswoman and humanitarian. She had a tough exterior that warned you, “Don’t mess with Maggie,” but she had a heart of gold and her benevolence was known far and wide. Those stories of her selflessness and blindness to economic status, race, color, or creed are my favorite but also underscore how rare is that quality of blindness in our society.

“Maggie’s death marked the end of an era 
that will not be seen again.” - Bill Wright 

As is the case with most biographies, readers get a lot more from reading The Whole Damn Cheese than just one woman’s story. Through his interviews and research, Wright shares many stories of the times and the people in Texas from the late 1800s forward. These side stories serve to really enrich the story that was Maggie’s life and give a clearer picture of the events that shaped her life. There are generations of stories, and it helps that the author includes a timeline at the beginning of the book. A final glance back at that timeline upon concluding the story further cements the idea of a bygone era and way of life.

The book is a very quick read at just over a hundred pages and includes numerous, well-placed black and white photos. There are some flipped captions and one photo that really needed more explanation (a family picture with horns? Please tell me more!), but including the photos really adds a layer of interest to the book and helps immerse the reader into Maggie’s life.  Also, the author includes information in the Acknowledgment and Notes sections that explain, clarify, and give credit to the sources used in writing the book.

Wright uses a lot of direct quotations to lend authenticity to the story, and the quotations and spellings also show readers the accents  of the speakers. Maggie’s voice comes through clearly, and by the end, I could really hear her speaking. The book needs a little polishing to fix some awkward sentences, repetition, and a few typos/errors, but the overall feeling in reading The Whole Damn Cheese is informal and comfortable and like hearing stories of the olden-days at a family get-together.  I recommend it to history lovers, Texas lovers, and those who want to delve into the fascinating, unexpected life of an amazing human.

Thank you to TCU Press and Lone Star Book Blog Tours for providing a lovely print copy in exchange for my honest opinion — the only kind I give.

For thirty-five years Bill Wright owned and managed a wholesale and retail petroleum marketing company. In 1987 he sold his company to his employees and since then has carved out a remarkable career as an author, fine art photographer, and ethnologist. He has written or contributed to seven books, and his photographs appear in Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

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