Hopeful & Heartwarming – Strays by Mara McBain @MaraMcBain

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Strays by Mara McBain is one of those gems that could easily slip through the cracks.

If you are looking for a feel good book for the holiday season, look no further.

STRAYSGoodreads  /  Amazon US  /  Amazon UK  /  Amazon CA

MY REVIEW

“I’ll risk it. We all go through shit. We can either sit down and cry, self medicate, or let it roll off and keep trying.”

A good deed done, and Jarek pays it forward, just when Cali needed a friend.

“Strays like us need to stick together.”

My feelings were all over the place, leaving me feeling dirty, wanting a shower, yet making me smile and want to hug the characters. It makes me feel hope for mankind. That there are more good people than bad people.

Even though the sex is a bit graphic, erotic, it is so sweet and loving, it gave me a warm, loving feeling.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to grow up  without your parents, but this horrendous story of the foster care system makes me fear, not just for the characters.

I could see a totally different outcome for these two young people growing up in the system and turning out ‘bad’, but they managed to rise above their past into loving, giving, ‘normal’ grown ups.

“I think a lot of people underestimate the power of laughter. Couples that laugh together, stay together.”

I so much agree with this. To me, laughter is very powerful…and necessary.

“You don’t keep score in love.”

When theyy came home from seeing the Fourth of July fireworks, my feelings caught in my throat. Thank goodness it wasn’t what I thought, but Mara McBain sure gave me a feeling of panic with her writing.

Such a touching story, the writing having my feelings running riot. Hit all the buttons. Realistic, heartbreaking and heartwarming, with characters that shine and disgust in a realistic fashion. I have to give it a rousing five star rating and if you’re looking for something to wake you up and slap you around, give it a try.

I won a signed ARC of Strays by Mara McBain and I am so happy I did. Thank you Mara.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos  5 Stars

GOODREADS BLURB

They were just strays … lost souls no one wanted.

It can always get worse.

Ripped away from her addict mother at eight only to be thrust into a new hell, those words have become etched on Cali’s soul. Life in the system has only reinforced them. Now, getting ready to step out on her own, she’s making plans and hoping against hope to break the cycle. Running for her life in a thunderstorm isn’t the way she’d expected to start.

Keep your head down and work hard.

It was the grown-up version of, out of sight, out of mind. It was how he had survived the hell of foster care. That, and running, but Jarek is done running. Finally, he has a place to call his own. Working construction, he builds things for strangers all day. At night, he renovates his dream home one piece at a time. He never expected to find the most important piece hiding under a wet tarp.

Can Jarek show Cali that it can get better? Can two damaged souls learn to love and trust enough to build a life together?

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Reach For Your Dream – Chasing Fireflies by Taylor Dean @taylordeanbooks

There are two songs that jumped out at me as I read Chasing Fireflies by Taylor Dean. I opted to use the Pina Colada song, because I love it and it makes me feel good to sing along to it.

Chasing Fireflies (Power of the Matchmaker)Goodreads  /  Amazon US  /  Amazon UK  /  Amazon CA

MY REVIEW

I have been a huge fan of Taylor Dean’s for some time now, so I am excited to check out another one of her novels, Chasing Fireflies.

Her sisters act like mothers as they do their best to dissuade Savannah from going to China for four months, but she knew HE was there and she had to find him, her true love. She’ll be OK, she has her magic cloak and that makes her invisible.

Emotions bubble to the surface early as I read of the loss of her parents. Can someone die of a broken heart?

OK Taylor, Ive got my tissues by my side, so let’s go find Paul, come hell or high water.

She’s shy, but that doesn’t mean she not observant, taking in everything around her,a spectator of others.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”  What a great quote.

I found it easy to relate to her difficulty with social situations and turbulence. I am a huge fan of my own company and God forbid I end up on a plane with turbulence.

Just like the fireflies my sisters and I  tried to catch on the warm summer evenings of our youth, the dream seems beyond my grasp.

I could follow her life long dream and head to China but that elevator scene…having a hard time getting there. Stopped me in my tracks. Taylor Dean is a must read author for me, and I do love a happy ever after, but this scene struck me so wrong…I’ll read on and see if she wins me over. I know..it’s fiction…just have to go with it.

Taylor Dean is very good with sweet, clean, innocent romance and she is sure to include the despair she feels when her dream is crushed. Ah, the sweet agony of youth and its naivety. She is so different from me but I do remember my broken heart and the soul crushing sorrow…that in hindsight seemed to end very quickly. Did more time pass than I thought?

I don’t mind predictable,the familiar. It can be warm, cozy and comfortable. I didn’t get into this one as much as I normally do her stories. They usually wrap me up in emotions and require tissues. Chasing Fireflies had its moments and is well worth the read.

Chasing Fireflies is one of a series of stand alone novels connect to The Matchmaker.

I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of Chasing Fireflies by Taylor Dean.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos  3 Stars

GOODREADS BLURB

My sisters think I’m crazy.

But, I’ve never forgotten the mysterious woman from my childhood who told me Paul is the name of my one true love.

She told me to search far and wide for him.

I haven’t stopped looking ever since.

When I stumble across an article about a successful American entrepreneur named Paul who lives and works in China, I’m intrigued. When the opportunity to teach English in China presents itself on the same day, I know it’s not a coincidence.

It’s destiny.

My sisters say I’m chasing a dream.

Just like the fireflies we tried to catch on the warm summer evenings of our youth, the dream seems beyond my grasp. Will my quest for the elusive Paul always be just short of fulfillment?

My sisters tell me it’s a fool’s errand.

Until I remind them of the day we saw the Red Bird.

The memory silences them.

The Red Bird Incident remains inarguable—and proves my search for Paul is not a silly fantasy.

I will find Paul . . . I will.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Taylor Dean

Taylor Dean lives in Texas and is the mother of four grown children. Upon finding herself with an empty nest, she began to write the stories that were always wandering around in her head, quickly finding she had a passion for writing, specifically romance. Whether it’s paranormal, contemporary, or suspense—you’ll find all sub-genres of clean romance in her line-up.

To find out what Taylor Dean is up to, follow the links below:

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MY REVIEWS FOR TAYLOR DEAN
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Giveaway – Shadows, Shells and Spain by John Meyer @johnmeyerbooks @GoddessFish

Welcome to my stop for Shadows, Shells, and Spain by John Meyer. I would like to thank John for visiting today. I am a cover girl and always curious about an author’s contribution to the final product. Let’s see what John has to say.

GUEST POST

Tell us about the cover and its creation.

Shadows, Shells, and Spain is definitely not the first book to take place on the exhausting and exhilarating Camino de Santiago. Even if you do a cursory search on Google, you will be presented with dozens of books about the Camino. However, my book is presented as a fictional travel memoir i.e. a travel book packed with accurate local descriptions and historical anecdotes—inside a completely fictional story following a desperate husband in search of his estranged and mysterious wife.

Now look again at your Google search of Camino books. They’re all so brown! Most of those covers represent the dreaded Meseta section of the Camino path, “the two-hundred-kilometer stretch of barren plateau that lies in the center of the country. Pilgrims complain of its dry heat, lack of shade, limited food resources, non-existent landmarks, and drab scenery.” Why would you want to showcase that kind of scenery for your book cover? Will that kind of cover inspire a reader to temporarily leave his or her family and friends to walk 800 kilometers across northern Spain? Probably not…

So just like the interior of my book represents a different kind of Camino book, I wanted the exterior of my book to represent a different kind of Camino as well. When I walked the path in June of 2014, most of the landscape was green and lush and absolutely lovely. Therefore, I was determined to create a cover that reflected that majestic beauty.

So the main front photo was taken by me on a stretch of road outside Los Arcos. My designer only manipulated it a little by enlarging the two pilgrims. They looked fine in the original photo but when it was presented inside a smaller cover photo on some of those ebook websites, they were a little difficult to see.

The back cover photo of the pilgrim statue in León was also taken by me because it had it all: the shell and yellow arrow (which are prominent symbols on the Camino) painted on the cement in front of a tired, reflective pilgrim. It had perfect symmetry. It just didn’t work for the front cover. The front cover is supposed to inspire you to temporarily leave your family and friends to walk 800 kilometers across northern Spain. Probably…

Thanks John. I am a photographer and love that you took the photos yourself and that you chose to show a path that I would love to travel too. Wonderful job.

And now, let’s put our walking shoes on travel.

Shadows, Shells, and Spain

by John Meyer

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GENRE:   travel fiction

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BLURB

John Meyer’s “Shadows, Shells, and Spain” is a thrilling new adventure where a husband desperately searches for his missing wife along the ancient Camino trail across northern Spain. It’s also a bold, new take on a modern-day pilgrimage that feeds the mind and soul of every character while testing the limits of their bodies… and their comfort zones.

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EXCERPT 

It became a miserable daily existence, made worse by a George Bernard Shaw quote that singly gnawed at me: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

George was right. I had to do . . . something. Anything! Teaching teenagers wasn’t fulfilling me; I needed to find a more creative outlet—and I thought I had found it when I started writing novels.

I tried several genres. My young adult novels only reminded me of my apathetic students, and my science fiction books always morphed into Star Wars. My dystopian novels were too depressing. My horror novels gave me nightmares. My political thrillers gave me headaches. I settled on detective novels starring rugged private eyes and leggy dames.

I wasn’t very good at it.

In fact, I never came close to completing any of them. I wasn’t clever enough to conceal the credible clues. My attempts at misdirection were too misleading. I was heavy-handed when I needed to be charming, and I was lightweight when I needed to be conclusive. And anyone who read any of my early chapters always deduced the killer right away.

I even gave my early chapters to my brightest students as an extra-credit homework assignment.

“So, what did you think?”

“Sir, I didn’t finish it . . .”

“Never mind that. What did you think?”

“What is this, a murder mystery? Am I supposed to guess who the killer is? What does this have to do with my history project?”

“Never mind that. What did you think?”

“I don’t know . . . Was it the chambermaid with the stutter?”

“Damn it!”

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AUTHOR Bio and Links

John Meyer writes fictional travel memoirs—unique adventure stories that combine fun facts of history with present-day drama and humor—always revolving around a fictitious love story and always based on his own thrilling journeys. His previous publication, Bullets, Butterflies, and Italy, was selected as a November Best Book by Chatelaine magazine. Meyer is also the studio writer for Entertainment Tonight Canada and has been ever since the popular daily show launched back in 2005.

http://www.johnmeyerbooks.com

https://twitter.com/johnmeyerbooks

https://www.facebook.com/john.meyer.142

Buy links:  Amazon  /  Barnes and Noble

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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One Sentence Review – Cookie Cutter by Jo Richardson #JoRichardson

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Cookie CutterGoodreads  /  Amazon US  /  Amazon UK  /  Amazon CA

I won this fabulous looking romance story that more than met my expectations with sparks from the opening pages, and I immediately fell in love with snarky Iris and humorous, teasing Carter as they share a bumpy road and some bruises, traveling to the happy ever after ending.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos 4 Stars

GOODREADS BLURB

Iris Alden and Carter Blackwood couldn’t be more different. Change-averse Iris likes her life neat and organized, while Carter’s itchy feet means he never stays in the same place for long.

When Carter, a stupidly handsome house flipper, purchases the house across the street from Iris, he has no intention of putting down roots, and she certainly has no time for a showy heartbreaker; she’s far too busy being mom to a stroppy teenager, production line cookie baker for school fundraising events and member of the Spangler Events Committee – as well as trying to rebuild her life after divorce from her ratbag husband.

Before long, though, it’s not simply the house Carter’s rebuilding, but Iris’s heart, too.

Lose yourself in this delightfully funny, sexy romance that is bound to have you rooting for Carter and Iris right from the very start.

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Giveaway – Mental Damnation by Konn Lavery @konnl @SDSXXTours

 
Dream
Mental Damnation Part 2
by Konn Lavery
 
Genre: Epic Dark Fantasy
 
 
Thought to be banished to the underworld by the humans, Krista mysteriously
finds herself as the first of her kind to walk on the surface in
centuries. This was caused by one of the underworld’s corrupt
leaders, Danil, who uses her in an unholy ritual to set their people
free. Danil’s infectious touch gives Krista the nightmarish disease
known as Mental Damnation.

 
She becomes the key interest of two men, Paladin and Dr. Alsroc, who
struggle to make sense of her sudden appearance and how it relates to
Mental Damnation. Her friend back in the underworld, Darkwing,
abandons his gang to begin his search for her.
 
Krista finds herself torn between two worlds, gaining acceptance among the
humans while experiencing inner turmoil from hallucinations caused by
her disease. These visions paint a hellish dream world known as
Dreadweave Pass where the realm’s ruler, a corrupt god known as the
Weaver, is on the hunt for her. Krista’s blood is believed to be a
key component for the Weaver’s retribution against the Heavenly
Kingdoms that once banished him!
 
 
 
 
 
Reality
Mental Damnation Part 1
 
 
Having her family murdered by the humans during her people’s banishment
from the surface world, Krista and her only friend, Darkwing,
struggle to remain alive. The pair of reptilian street scum live in
their newfound home, the City of Renasence, dictated by a fascist
military known as the Renasence Guard. The two find themselves at
odds when Krista puts her faith in the Five Guardians’ goal of
unification, while Darkwing chooses to stand with a notorious gang,
the Blood Hounds, who are known for their anarchist views
This divide in their friendship forces Krista to persist on her own as the
Five Guardians become crazed from an unknown disease – Mental
Damnation. After their infection, the Guardians develop a bizarre
interest in her, claiming they must reap her innocence for their
newfound master, the Weaver.



With a military dictatorship, politically-driven gangs and their guardians
infected and on a hunt for her, Krista has limited options for
survival: Does she fend for her life in the City of Renascence,
against menacing forces, or risk leaving everything behind and enter
the uncharted realm of the underworld?
 
 
 
 
 
Konn Lavery is a Canadian horror and dark fantasy writer who is known for
his Mental Damnation series. The second book, Dream, reached the
Edmonton Journal’s top five selling fictional books list. He
started writing fantasy stories at a very young age while being home
schooled. It wasn’t until graduating college that he began
professionally pursuing his work with his first release, Reality.
Since then he has continued to write works of fiction ranging from
fantasy to horror.

 
His literary work is done in the long hours of the night. By day, Konn
runs his own graphic design and website development business under
the title Reveal Design. These skills have been transcribed into the
formatting and artwork found within his publications supporting his
fascination of transmedia storytelling.
 
 
Follow the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!
 
  
 

 

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