Friday, September 27, 2019

Angel Thieves ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Review & Giveaway!

ANGEL THIEVES
by
KATHI APPELT
Young Adult / Magical Realism / Historical / Contemporary
Publisher: Atheneum / Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Date of Publication: March 12, 2019
Number of Pages: 336

Scroll down for the giveaway!



An ocelot. A slave. An angel thief.

Multiple perspectives spanning across time are united through themes of freedom, hope, and faith in a most unusual and epic novel from Newbery Honor–winning author and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt.


Sixteen-year-old Cade Curtis is an angel thief. After his mother’s family rejected him for being born out of wedlock, he and his dad moved to the apartment above a local antique shop. The only payment the owner Mrs. Walker requests: marble angels, stolen from graveyards, for her to sell for thousands of dollars to collectors. But there’s one angel that would be the last they’d ever need to steal; an angel, carved by a slave, with one hand open and one hand closed. If only Cade could find it…

Zorra, a young ocelot, watches the bayou rush past her yearningly. The poacher who captured and caged her has long since lost her, and Zorra is getting hungrier and thirstier by the day. Trapped, she only has the sounds of the bayou for comfort—but it tells her help will come soon.

Before Zorra, Achsah, a slave, watched the very same bayou with her two young daughters. After the death of her master, Achsah is free, but she’ll be damned if her daughters aren’t freed with her. All they need to do is find the church with an angel with one hand open and one hand closed…

In a masterful feat, National Book Award Honoree Kathi Appelt weaves together stories across time, connected by the bayou, an angel, and the universal desire to be free.

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PRAISE FOR ANGEL THIEVES:
Spiritual, succinct, and emotionally gripping. 
-- School Library Journal

A heartfelt love letter to Houston that acknowledges the bad parts of its history while uplifting the good. -- BCBB

Shows the best and worst sides of humanity and underscores the powerful force of the bayou, which both holds and erases secrets.  
-- Publishers Weekly

Narrative strands are like tributaries that begin as separate entities but eventually merge into a single thematic connection: that love, whether lost or found, is always powerful. -- Horn Book

Richly drawn and important. -- Booklist, starred review



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HALL WAYS REVIEW: Print and Audio Book Review. Before readers ever read the first page of Angel Thieves, they will know it’s unique. There’s the jacket illustration, there’s the amazing hidden gem beneath the jacket, and of course, just the book’s description sets it apart from what readers expect in books written for the young adult audience. Don’t be fooled by all the white space. Read a few pages, and it’s clear that Kathi Appelt trusts her young readers to think and process and absorb higher level concepts. That white space has purpose.

The stories in Angel Thieves are told through very short chapters that give impactful snippets of story, characterization, and deeper meaning. Each chapter is powerful and so descriptive that more words aren’t needed. Reading Kathi Appelt’s lyrical prose is almost like reading poetry. Every. Word. Counts. Each sentence is a morsel to be slowly ingested, not devoured.

“Below him, the bayou slides toward the sea. The ancient haints rise from the water’s silver surface, linger for a moment, then disappear into the morning air.”

Houston’s Buffalo Bayou guides readers and characters through the passage of time and along its ever-changing channels forged by weather and man-made events. The bayou is both a physical and a mystical presence. It holds secrets and ghosts and memories, and it’s always watching and calling out – and even saving those who will pause and hear its voice.

In the same way that the waters of the bayou flow in unexpected, inconsistent ways, so do the lives of the other characters. There is serenity and volatility, clarity and murkiness. But both waters and souls are ultimately flowing one direction: towards freedom.

Appelt doesn’t shy away from bringing to light the characters’ barriers to freedom. For example, her thorough research (check out the bibliography at the end) reveals to readers the unsettling, shameful history of slavery in Texas. The story lines will make readers squirm at times, and that’s a good thing. We need to be reminded of where greed and lust for money and power and control can lead.

Angel Thieves covers a wide range of really heavy topics and draws some uncomfortable parallels showing how history repeats itself. Appelt doesn’t sugar-coat ugly, and she makes some clear statements about the state of our world, but it is all incorporated organically and feels natural for the situations and characters. (Including the scattered F-bombs dropped by sixteen-year-old Cade. Like it or not, teenagers swear in real-life.)

ABOUT THE NARRATION: Perfection. Laurel Kathleen, the narrator of the audio book version of Angel Thieves, treats listeners to an outstanding performance. Pacing is precisely what it should be (I listened at regular speed, which is a rarity), and she seamlessly shifts between characters and voices. She’s a natural storyteller, and especially when the bayou is calling, listeners will be mesmerized.

I highly recommend Angel Thieves, and in a perfect world, read it AND listen to it for two entirely different but fully satisfying storytelling experiences. You won’t have loose ends neatly tied up, you won’t have clear answers, but you’ll have that ocean full of possibilities to think about, and that’s a rich gift.


Thank you to Lone Star Book Blog Tours for the opportunity to help share this book with the world and the publisher and author for providing me a gorgeous, autographed print copy (and photo op) at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference to do it. In exchange, I share my honest opinion – the only kind I give.  

Even with this reading setting,
I was transported to the bayou.
Fangirling and getting my
autographed copy from Kathi.

Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award–winning, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Maybe a Fox (with Alison McGhee), Keeper, and many picture books including Counting Crows and Max ... Attacks

She has two grown children and lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband and their six cats. She serves as a faculty member at Vermont College of Fine Arts in their MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program.

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GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
THREE SIGNED COPIES OF ANGEL THIEVES
SEPTEMBER 24-OCTOBER 4, 2019
(U.S. Only)

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR
9/24/19
Book Trailer
9/24/19
Book Trailer
9/25/19
Review
9/26/19
Guest Post
9/26/19
Guest Post
9/27/19
Review
9/28/19
Guest Post


9/28/19
Guest Post
9/29/19
Review
9/30/19
Review
10/1/19
Playlist
10/1/19
Author Interview
10/2/19
Review
10/3/19
Review

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Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Gryphon Heist ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Promo, Book Trailer & Giveaway!


THE GRYPHON HEIST
(Talia Inger, Book One)
by
JAMES R. HANNIBAL
  
Genre: Contemporary Christian / Thriller / Suspense
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: September 3, 2019
Number of Pages: 400

Scroll down for the giveaway!


Talia Inger is a rookie CIA case officer assigned not to the Moscow desk as she had hoped but to the forgotten backwaters of Eastern Europe--a department only known as "Other." When she is tasked with helping a young, charming Moldovan executive secure his designs for a revolutionary defense technology, she figures she'll be back in DC within a few days. But that's before she knows where the designs are stored--and who's after them.

With her shady civilian partner, Adam Tyler, Talia takes a deep dive into a world where criminal minds and unlikely strategies compete for access to the Gryphon, a high-altitude data vault that hovers in the mesosphere. But is Tyler actually helping her? Or is he using her for his own dark purposes?






PRAISE FOR THE GRYPHON HEIST
"A movie-worthy tale of espionage and intrigue. Hannibal has done it again."--Steven James, national bestselling author of Every Wicked Man

"James Hannibal has crafted a story slam full of mystery, danger, twists, and turns. I couldn't flip the pages fast enough--or bother to stop to breathe. You don't want to miss this one!"--Lynette Eason, bestselling, award-winning author of the Blue Justice series

"The Gryphon Heist plunges readers into a world where no one can be trusted, nothing is as it seems, and choosing the wrong side could be catastrophic."--Lynn H. Blackburn, award-winning and bestselling author of the Dive Team Investigations series

"Leap on board The Gryphon Heist and ride the whirlwind of suspense. Don't let go!"--DiAnn Mills, bestselling author of Burden of Proof

Former stealth pilot James R. Hannibal is a two-time Silver Falchion Award winner for his Section 13 mysteries for kids and a Thriller Award nominee for his Nick Baron covert ops series for adults. James is a rare multi-sense synesthete, meaning all of his senses intersect. He sees and feels sounds and smells and hears flashes of light. He lives in Houston, Texas.
 Website ⬥ Facebook
Twitter  ⬥ Instagram
Goodreads ⬥ Amazon Author Page





-------------------------------------
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
GRAND PRIZE: Copy of The Gryphon Heist 
+ Gryphon Ornament + Clip Bookmarks + $10 Starbucks Gift Card; 
SECOND PRIZE: Copy of The Gryphon Heist + $25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card;
THIRD PRIZE: Copy of The Gryphon Heist  + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
September 26-October 6, 2019
VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
9/26/19
Notable Quotable
9/26/19
BONUS Post
9/27/19
Review
9/28/19
Author Interview
9/29/19
Review
9/30/19
Excerpt
10/1/19
Review
10/2/19
Top Ten List
10/3/19
Author Interview
10/4/19
Review
10/5/19
Review


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COMING MARCH, 2020!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Root of Murder ~ Audio Book Blog Tour Review & Giveaway!




THE ROOT OF MURDER
A Lovers in Crime Mystery, #4
BY LAUREN CARR
Narrated by Mike Alger
Genre: Adult Fiction (18 +)
Category: Mystery
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Release date: March 20, 2019
Audio: 8 hours, 53 minutes
Content Rating: PG-13 (Lauren Carr's books are murder mysteries, so there are murders involved. Occasionally, a murder will happen on stage. There is sexual content, but always behind closed doors. Some mild swearing (a hell or a damn few and far between). No F-bombs!

Book Description:
Homicide Detective Cameron Gates learned long ago that there is no such thing as a typical murder case. Each mystery is special in its own right—especially for the family of the victim.The homicide of a successful executive, husband, and father seems open and shut when the murder weapon is found in his estranged son-in-law’s possession. The circumstantial evidence is so damning that when her step-son, J.J. Thornton, agrees to act as the defendant’s public defender, he assumes his first murder case will be a loss. Only the report of a missing husband proves that this case is not as open and shut as it seems. Strap on your seat belts for a wild ride in this mystery rooted in decades of deception that sprouts into murder.
Buy the Book:
Amazon.com
Add to Goodreads

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HALL WAYS REVIEW. Audio Book Review. The murder of John Davis is an open and shut case…until it isn’t. It’s open and almost shut, then opened and almost shut again. Repeat, repeat, repeat! I’ve read a bunch of Lauren Carr’s murder mysteries, but I think The Root of Murder may hold the record for the number of dead-end paths that I merrily followed and the number of times I was incorrect as to figuring out the killer’s/killers' identity. Why am I so gullible?! Lauren Carr is a master of misdirection, and I drink the delicious Kool-Aid every time.  

“I don’t believe in coincidences.”

As is typical in a Carr mystery (The Root of Murder is the fourth book in the Lovers in Crime series), no time is wasted, and readers have a dead body within the first few pages.  Lieutenant Cameron Gates is on the scene and with the help of her husband, attorney Joshua Thornton, and his son J.J. Thornton, a young criminal attorney, the trio tracks down leads and suspects, discovers a gazillion motives, and even opens an old case file when it seems John Davis’s murder may have ties to deaths in the past.

I recently read and reviewed the second book in this series, Real Murder, and it’s clear A LOT happened in book three, Killer in the Band. None of it was critical to understanding The Root of Murder, but in reading with my ears, I was a little confused at first with a few of the new characters. (Those who read with their eyes will find several pages that share the cast of characters and who they are.) I am quite interested in filling the gap and hope to go back and read books one and three in the series!  

In addition to the author’s excellent ability to weave multiple story pieces into one big, elaborate tale, what I enjoy about this book and the Lovers in Crime mysteries is the relationship between Cameron and Joshua. They are not youngsters navigating a marriage and relationship. They are mature characters who have life experience under their belts, including prior marriages and a blended family, and there is chemistry there that adds depth and authenticity to them as a couple. (And I appreciate that we get hints at their friskiness, but the details are left behind closed doors.) It’s refreshing to see a passionate middle-aged-ish couple who are a powerhouse together but who also each have their own high-profile careers and pursuits.

Carr also does a great job with giving her readers a break from the intensity of the murder plot lines by threading in secondary stories that are high interest but not stressful – and in The Root of Murder, there’s a small paranormal element thrown in and of course, comic relief mostly provided by animals with personalities big enough to take over the page. (Charley, the watch rooster, is my new favorite.) There are plenty of elements for readers to enjoy in The Root of Murder, and I’ll continue to read books by Lauren Carr – and she’s a prolific writer, thank goodness, so that’s an easy thing to do.

ABOUT THE NARRATION. Mike Alger has been the narrator for all of Carr’s books that I’ve listened to, and I think he keeps getting better. He has an even delivery, he keeps the voices for the multitudes of characters separate and unique, and he does an admirable job with female voices so that they don’t sound ridiculous. (They do sound like a man voicing a female, but it works.) I listened at my usual 1.25x, which is perfect for me and keeps the pace where I like it.  I ended-up buying the eBook and using Whispersync to go back and forth between formats, and I HIGHLY recommend that for people who enjoy audio but can’t always listen.


Thank you to iRead Book Tours and the author for providing me a digital Audible audio download in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. 

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Praise for Lauren Carr’s Mysteries:

“Lauren Carr could give Agatha Christie a run for her money!”
Charlene Mabie-Gamble, Literary R&R

“As always, Lauren Carr brings an action-packed story that is almost impossible to put down. Her mystery plots have so many twists and turns that I didn’t know if I was coming or going. And the action just didn’t stop from the very beginning till the very end.” 
Melina Mason, Melina’s Book Reviews

Fall in Love with These Other Lovers in Crime Mysteries:
A Lovers in Crime Mystery, Killer in the Band by Lauren CarrBook Details:
Book Title: Killer in the Band  (A Lovers in Crime Mystery #3) by Lauren Carr
Genre:  Adult fiction,  430 pages
Category:  Mystery
Publisher:  Acorn Book Services
Release date:  Oct 3, 2016
Available for review in:  print, Audible download, mobi, epub, PDF
Content Rating:  PG-13 

Book Description:
Summer of Love & Murder

Joshua’s eldest son, Joshua “J.J.” Thornton Jr., has graduated at the top of his class from law school and returns home to spend the summer studying for the bar exam. However, to Joshua’s and Cameron’s shock and dismay, J.J. moves into the main house at Russell Ridge Farm, the largest dairy farm in the Ohio Valley, to rekindle a romance with Suellen Russell, a onetime leader of a rock group who’s twice his age. Quickly, they learn that she has been keeping a deep dark secret.

The move brings long-buried tensions between the father and son to the surface. But when a brutal killer strikes, the Lovers in Crime must set all differences aside to solve the crime before J.J. ends up in the cross hairs of a murderer.

Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble
Add to Goodreads
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Real Murder by Lauren Carr
Book Title Real Murder (A Lovers in Crime Mystery #2) by Lauren Carr
Genre:  Adult Fiction (18 +),  302 pages
Category:  Mystery
Publisher:  Acorn Book Services
Release date:    May 28, 2014
Content Rating: PG-13


Book Description:
When Homicide Detective Cameron Gates befriends Dolly, the little old lady who lives across the street, she is warned not to get lured into helping the elderly woman by investigating the unsolved murder of one of her girls. “She’s senile,” Cameron is warned. “It’s not a real murder.”

Such is not the case. After Dolly is brutally murdered, Cameron discovers that the sweet blue-haired lady’s “girl” was a call girl, who had been killed in a mysterious double homicide.

Meanwhile, Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton is looking for answers to the murder of a childhood friend, a sheriff's deputy whose cruiser is found at the bottom of a lake. The deputy had disappeared almost twenty years ago while privately investigating the murder of a local prostitute.

It doesn’t take long for the Lovers in Crime to put their cases together to reveal a long-kept secret that some believe is worth killing to keep undercover.
Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble
Add to Goodreads

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Dead on Ice by Lauren Carr
Book Details:

Book Title Dead on Ice (Lovers in Crime Mystery Book #1)by Lauren Carr
Genre:  Adult Fiction (18 +),  234 pages
Category:  Mystery
Publisher:  Acorn Book Services
Release date:   August 22, 2012
Content Rating: PG-13

Book Description: 
Dead on Ice is the first installment of Lauren Carr’s new series (Lovers in Crime) featuring Hancock County Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton and Pennsylvania State Police homicide detective Cameron Gates. 

Spunky Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of Cherry Pickens, a legendary star of pornographic films, whose body turns up in an abandoned freezer. The case has a personal connection to her lover, Joshua Thornton, because the freezer was located in his cousin’s basement. It doesn’t take long for their investigation to reveal that the risqué star’s roots were buried in their rural Ohio Valley community, something that Cherry had kept off her show business bio. She should have kept her hometown off her road map, too—because when this starlet came running home from the mob, it proved to be a fatal homecoming.
Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble
Add to Goodreads

Lauren Carr
Meet the author:    With over forty years of writing and publishing experience, international best-selling author Lauren Carr has played an active role in the revolution of independent authors.

While studying for her college degree in English and journalism, Lauren worked as an editor and layout design artist with the federal government in Washington, DC. It was there that Lauren learned the foundations necessary for book publishing. 

Lauren’s debut mystery, A Small Case of Murder was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Awards. On the heels of that success, she accepted an offer from a traditional publisher for A Reunion to Die For.

When it came time to publish her third book, Lauren rejected offers from two traditional publishers, choosing instead to independently publish It’s Murder, My Son, which made it to #1 in sales on Amazon in cozy mysteries. She has never regretted her decision to become an independent author.

Realizing that she could use her experiences to help other writers achieve their dreams to become published authors, Lauren established Acorn Book Services, offering professional services to independent authors.

The international best-selling author of over twenty-five murder mysteries, Lauren has gone on dozens of virtual blog tours (most with iRead Book Tours!) and has seen first-hand that how an author publishes is irrelevant to success. The key is exposure to potential readers. Virtual blog tours are an excellent avenue for book promotion. Book spotlights, reviews, author guest posts and interviews are forever, unlike in-person book events, which become a memory as soon as they have finished.

With her vast experience, it seemed only natural for Lauren Carr to jump at the opportunity to join the iReads Book Tours team. She lives with her husband, and two spoiled rotten German shepherds on a mountain in West Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

You can usually find Lauren plotting her next murder mystery in her writer's studio on her mountaintop. Visit Lauren's  website https://mysterylady.net/ to learn more about her murder mysteries, Acorn Book Services, and now iReads Book Tours!

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