Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Too Young to Die in the Garden of Syn by Michael Seidelman

Welcome to the Book Tour! 
Too Young to Die in the Garden of Syn
by: Michael Seidelman

Too Young to Die in the Garden of Syn
(Garden of Syn Book #3)
by: Michael Seidelman
YA Fantasy
Chewed Pencil Press 
Release Date: March 30, 2021

The stakes could not be higher in the epic conclusion of The Garden of Syn trilogy.

Synthia (Syn) Wade discovered a secret world known as the Garden, where illness and death do not exist. Because of the tragic events that occurred in the Garden, Syn vowed never to return, even as cystic fibrosis threatened her young life. But when Syn faces the ultimate betrayal and a malicious adversary closes in, she is forced to escape her world and reluctantly return to the Garden.

However, her ruthless foe is not easily thwarted. Flanked by a deadly army, this dark force manipulates its way into the Garden with the goal of ultimate destruction. Facing great adversity, Syn must risk her life to protect the Garden and all those living within its borders.

Will Syn save the Garden and those she holds dear from the storm cloud of evil? Or will she discover that no one is Too Young to Die in the Garden of Syn?

Buy Links: 


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About the Author:

When Michael Seidelman was growing up, his passions were reading, watching movies, enjoying nature and creative writing. Not much has changed since then.

Working in Online Marketing for over ten years, Michael felt it was time to pursue his passion and began writing The Garden of Syn trilogy.

Michael is excited about the upcoming release of the third and final book in The Garden of Syn series and beyond the trilogy, he has more books in the works that he can’t wait to share with the world!

Michael was born in Vancouver, BC Canada where he continues to reside.

Tour Created by YA Bound Book Tours 

Blood of the Dragonfly by Hawk MacKinney


Welcome Hawk MacKinney back to Andi's Book Reviews! Today we've got an excerpt from his latest mystery/suspense title, Blood of the Dragonfly. He's also telling us what it's like to craft parallel worlds between book series and has a great giveaway at the end! Be sure to leave comments and questions as you follow the tour.

While dangling a fishing hook from his flat bottom skiff before dawn, former SEAL-turned-PI Craige Ingram spots grey-black smoke coiling above the treetops across the river in the direction of the Georgia bayous and Corpsewood Manor. Bayou or bogs, fire in the uncut cypress and pines bodes a sense that the river is no barrier to the fire that threatens his ancestral home, Moccasin Hollow. Neither are the bodies later found in the burned mansion of Corpsewood Manor. Craige wastes no time in helping his ex-SEAL buddy Lt. Graysen MacGerald who is now Head of Buckingham Homicide Investigations by unofficially investigating the bodies and an exquisite dragonfly brooch found in the mansion with a reputation for evil, hauntings, and mystery.

Read an excerpt:
In the bright sun-fired afternoon, Craige parked curbside in front of Mattie Skuggs’ well-lived-in cared-for neat welcoming house. He never pulled into Mattie’s driveway. Mattie never owned a car. It wouldn’t have mattered if she had; she would’ve made sure no oil or grease smudges got left on her drive. The drive was spotless. Outside and in, everything about her small cottage of a house was clean and inviting. Mattie fit right into the homey, comfortable space she had made for herself. He made his way up the pansy-trimmed dollhouse walkway embraced with flower beds of daylilies and wild violets in scrupulously weeded, arranged patterns across Mattie's lawn. Stocky and short, Mattie Skuggs was a kind soul but by no means unsophisticated. Mattie’s simple and uncomplicated, happy, content life was the rare exception in the hurry-up-dash PTSD world. Quiet and retiring, Mattie was no timid push-aside walkover. Mattie Skuggs was one of an almost forgotten genre. Retiring, soft-spoken, polite, and considerate, she never complained. She had a warm guileless appeal Craige often wished there was more of. Crass and bluster offended both. They’d gotten it from their upbringing; Mattie’s Mama and Craige’s Grannie had been faithful churchgoers.

Few understood Mattie’s gift, often giving her fearful sidewise glances, mostly for what she might truly know about them. Mattie had learned to quietly use it to help when she could. Craige didn’t need to ask. He’d seen it first-hand in Grannie as well as Mattie. Wasn’t something explainable to run-of-the-mill millennials that couldn’t survive, their lives wired into the latest gadgets? With Mattie, it was simple—a blessing to be shared.

Mattie never married. Never spoke of beaus or boyfriends. Craige made a point of never asking. He doubted she’d ever had a date. Could picture her likely shocked speechless if she saw a man naked, then again, maybe she wouldn’t. A true maiden lady could often know way more than anyone suspected. Born with a keen mind, yet she never finished high school. Didn’t read or write well. Her greatest delight was her tidy, orderly, immaculate one-bedroom cozy, bought-and-paid-for home. With an exceptional eye for rare quality, flea market sojourns were regular delights on her off-days from the Fabric Shoppe where she’d worked for years. She was thrilled if she found a treasure, like her antique brass front door knocker rescued from the gone-to-ruin Pasquerre mansion.

As he reached for the door knocker, her front door opened. Her plump, rosy-cheeked guileless face framed in the doorway, “Mister Craige.” In her lower Alabama accent, stout matronly Mattie’s spirited ice blue eyes were all a-twinkle.

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Crafting a Fictional Parallel World

In crafting one’s fictional parallel world for your books, how would you change the characters/setting/plot?

I am currently working on two series: The Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series and my science fiction series, The Cairns of Sainctuarie. No matter the planet or parallel world, the basic setting and plot tools don’t change. In both series, my favorite characters are strong tender feminine figures that share common traits between the titles in the mysteries and the alien worlds. Those traits were deliberately incorporated with their emotions, motives, and characteristics that directly effect changes and events in the settings and plotlines.

Each of the mysteries has serial characters—characters that show up in each book. The characters in my science fiction series are blood-kin but not necessarily serial characters. Another difference between the mysteries and the science fiction is in the language and speech; vocabularies of idioms, nouns, names and speech inflections can be a real plus for defining a character, a place, or even a period in time. This important detail helps the reader to identify characters and settings with no tags needed. However, with idioms or regional dialects one must use caution. If you have grown up with it, then you are probably fairly safe to use it. If you try to borrow unfamiliar dialect diversions, caution is the watchword. Vocabulary can be wild and a tricky minefield; definitions and word use can be muddled.

Consistency is another watchword. Don’t scramble settings. It will trip you up every time. This author is speaking from experience, which is why I always start with an abbreviated outline. Don’t be afraid to use that sort of plot-and-setting tool with consistency as the given guidepost.

Hawk MacKinney

Hawk MacKinney began writing mysteries for his school newspaper, served in the US Navy for over 20 years, earned two postgraduate degrees with studies in languages and history, taught postgraduate courses in the United States and Jerusalem, authored professional articles and chordate embryology texts on fetal and adult anatomy, and is well known for his works of fiction. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel, was nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award. Both his CAIRNS OF SANCTUARIE science fiction series and the MOCCASIN HOLLOW MYSTERY series have received worldwide recognition.

Hawk MacKinney will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Review of Blue Moon (Blue Mountain #2) by Tess Thompson


Sparks fly when opposites attract, and so it goes with Ciaran Lanigan and Bliss Heywood. He’s the handsome playboy. She’s the studious executive. And their chemistry? It’s off the charts.

But beneath his charming facade Ciaran is a haunted man. And the more he opens up to Bliss, the less she’s sure she can trust him. Is he really in danger, or is he just a danger to Bliss? Can two people who love with all their hearts face the ever-lurking threats of secrets, lies, and family together?

Blue Moon is the second installment in Tess Thompson’s acclaimed Blue Mountain Series, but may be enjoyed as a standalone novel.

Book Links

** My thoughts**
When Bliss showed up at the end of Blue Midnight, I just knew that she had her own story to tell. And let me tell you, it is a good one.

Blythe's little sister has done well for herself in spite of their upbringing, and thanks to Blythe's amazing nurturing skills. But that doesn't mean that she is without her own trials and tribulations. Getting fired and her subsequent accident are fate's way of forcing Bliss's hand and reimagining her life. Her impulsive generosity leads her to also completely change the lives of others she encounters, and it is truly beautiful to watch unfold.

Bliss makes it out to Idaho to spend time with her sister and to regroup. When she meets her brother-in-law-to-be, Ciaran, she finally realizes that she does actually need and want a man in her life. She just honestly never really saw it before.

Ciaran has long been a playboy, never wanting to settle down, and always living like each day could be his last. We do eventually find out why. And Bliss is the first woman he has met who has ever made him believe that he could be ready to settle down.

Peregrine, Idaho seems to be a magical place where dreams of love come true as soulmates finally find each other. I loved reading about the Langian and Heywood families coming together again, as well as all of the secondary characters involved in their lives. I am heavily campaigning for a Moonstone spinoff!

You can read this delightful romantic story as a standalone, but you'll also want to go back and read Blythe's story in Blue Mountain. It is my favorite.

Review of The Engagement Gamble (Love's a Gamble #3) by Nancy Fraser


Welcome to the book tour for The Engagement Gamble by Nancy Fraser! It's the third book in the Love's a Gamble series. I have an excerpt and my book review for you. Plus Nancy gives us some insight into becoming an author. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour, leaving questions and comments along the way. Best of luck entering the giveaway!

Marshal Zack McAlister has made it his mission to protect the good citizens of Greenville, MS. In particular, one very opinionated and independent lady doctor. The only hinderance to his professional obligations are the dozen or so single women vying for his attention.

Suzanne Martindale, M.D., has quickly become a fixture in Greenville since taking over for her semi-retired predecessor. And, like Marshal McAlister, she’s been inundated with unwanted suitors.

When Zack proposes a fake engagement, Suzanne is reluctant at first and claims in order for anyone to believe they’re actually courting and in love, there has to be chemistry between them.

Zack sets out to prove they can easily fool the people of Greenville into believing their ruse. Will his smooth Cajun charm and steamy-hot kisses do the trick? Or, are they destined to be victims of their own charade?

When outside forces threaten the entire McAlister clan, can Zack keep his family, and his faux fiancé, safe? And, will a life-threatening accident show them anything, even love, is possible if you have trust?

~ ~ ~

The McAlister family welcomes you back to Mississippi with a third adventure, and maybe a sneak peek at yet another devastating seductive McAlister man!

Read an excerpt:
Greenville, Mississippi
June, 1868

“Evening, Marshal.”

“Good evening, Miss Winston.” Zack McAlister greeted the young school teacher with a nod and a tip of his Stetson before setting his hat squarely back on his head.

“I brought you some cookies,” she told him, “as a thank you for stopping those boys from tipping over our privy.”

“It was my pleasure.” Accepting the proffered plate of cookies, he added, “I’m sure my deputies and I will enjoy these immensely.”

About to open the door leading to his office and step inside, Zack was halted by Gloria Winston’s next words. “I absolutely love your accent. It’s so…so…New Orleans.”

“Why thank you, ma’am.” Zack took another step forward, anxious to extricate himself from the unwanted attention. “If you’ll excuse me, Miss Winston, I have reports to complete.”

“Please, Marshal, call me Gloria.”

He reached for the door handle and nodded. “Good day to you, Gloria.”

“Good day, Marshal.”

“Another batch of cookies?” Pete Bailey asked when Zack came through the door, a snicker slipping through the deputy’s handlebar mustache, the sound of his laughter followed quickly by a broad, tobacco-stained grin.

Zack turned toward Pete and shot him a glare. “I don’t hear any complaints from you or Tom when you’re enjoying your fill.”

“I just wish these young fillies would learn how to cook something substantial, like a stew or a loaf of bread. A man can’t live on cookies alone.”

Zack sat the plate down on the corner of the desk and took a seat on the other side. It had been the same for the past two months, ever since he’d come to Greenville from New Orleans to take over for the ailing sheriff. He couldn’t walk down the street without one of the town’s available young women throwing herself at his feet. It had been a novelty at first, but now it was just plain tiring. Zack could almost feel his jaw twitching from the hundreds of smiles he’d forced across his face in the name of civility.

“I wish they’d just give up,” Zack muttered. “Surely they can see I’m not interested.”

“You McAlister boys do tend to attract every available female for miles. It was that way for Matthew, then Jake. It’s your turn to wallow in the McAlister charm.”

“I don’t want to wallow in anything. I just want to do my job.”

“You know what you need, Zack. You need a wife,” Pete said. “Then, this parade of girlies would stop.”

“I’m not in the market for a wife. And if I were, there’s not one that interests me in all of Greenville.”

“What about that doctor lady? You two seem to get along just fine.”

“We get along because we’re both professionals, out to do a job. And, Suzanne Martindale is the last woman I’d want for a wife.”

“She seems fine to me. She sure is a looker.”

“She’s also opinionated, stubborn, tied to her career and, at her best, infuriating.”

“It sounds to me as if you’ve given the doc some serious thought.”

Zack shook his head, dispelling any notion of ‘thinking’ about Suzanne Martindale. “My idea of a good wife is someone who stays home, keeps a neat house, raises the children, and is waiting by the door when her husband gets home from a long, hard day at work.”

“That sounds about right, assuming all you want is to make babies and eat a home-cooked meal.”

Book Links
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The book is currently on sale for $0.99!

**My thoughts**
I have to say that if I only looked at the cover and the blurb, I would expect this to be a contemporary romance. I've not read the other books in the series, so without looking at the actual genre, I would not have known it was a historical romance. So it did take me a little bit to readjust my mindset, though it is quite obvious from the characters' banter and situation that this is over 100 years ago.

And like I said, this book is a part of a series. However, I did not have any difficulty following the characters and storyline in spite of not having read the other ones. So rest assured that this does work as a standalone.

Suzanne is a fiercely independent woman, especially for this time period. Zack is everything you would expect a marshal to be. The two of them are quite attractive and seem to have a never-ending barrage of suitors knocking on their doors. Neither of them are interested in a relationship right now. So they decide to fake one between themselves to hold those suitors at bay. The thing is, despite his protests, I think Zack is really into it right from the start. Suzanne tries to deny it a little bit longer and can't do it. But it does take them a while to get things going. And of course, life is going to drop in some drama to try to trip them up along the way.

I haven't read a historical romance in this particular trope before. It was an interesting change of pace to read a fake fiance book taking place in the 1800s to mix up my usual reading habits.

I received a requested review copy of this title. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Becoming Nancy Fraser, Author

I’ve been writing forever and published in romance since 1996. However, my road was definitely unconventional.

I’d always intended to be a writer. The great American novel, a memoir, poetry. Encouraged by my ninth-grade English teacher, I’d try my hand at writing almost anything—as long as I could write. However, quite honestly, I never expected that “anything” to include romance.

In the very early nineties, I was working in the publication department at Wayne State University in Detroit. My job was to take the professors’ rambling notes and turn them into something that could be published—either in journals or book form.

One of my co-workers was an avid romance reader and often brought books with her to work to read on break and lunch. One day, she offered me a book to read: Chain Lightning, a Silhouette Intimate Moments by author Elizabeth Lowell. I politely declined and tacked on the stupidest thing I’ve ever said: “No thank you. I don’t read romance. Anyone can write one of those.”

She handed me the book, and said, “I dare you to try.” Never one to back down from a dare, I took the book home with me. My husband and boys were away for the weekend at a hockey tournament, so I made myself a cup of coffee and started to read. Three hours later, I thought ... that doesn’t look difficult. So, I sat down at my clunky old computer (can we say 8-inch floppies?), and I wrote. One chapter. Two. On Sunday, I re-read what I’d written and then wrote a third. I printed everything out on my noisy dot matrix printer and took the chapters to work on Monday.

“Here, your dare,” I said proudly, tossing the sheets on her desk.

She took the pages so she could read them on her lunch. After lunch she came to my desk and tossed the pages back at me. “You copied those from a book, didn’t you?”


“Prove it. We’re not busy today. Write another chapter here at work. I’ll grab the phone if it rings.”

I fired up the Wang word processor and created another chapter, writing my first actual love scene complete with French kiss and groping hands. I ran it off on the department printer, standing protectively in reach in case a stray professor might wander in unannounced.

“Here, you’re double-dare.”

She read it, pursed her lips, smiled and apologized for doubting me. “Can I keep these?”

“Sure. Be my guest.”

Over the next couple of weeks, I totally forgot about the pages, but did continue to read other romance novels, discovering an infinity for steamy contemporaries.

My co-worker showed up at work one day and handed me a letter, the Silhouette Books insignia in the corner and my name on the envelope. “Quick. Open it. I’m dying to know what it says.”

Little did I know, she’d sent the book off to an editor with a cover letter, pretending to me be. We opened the letter together. I admit, I was expecting a “thanks, but no thanks”—the author equivalent of a Dear John letter.

“Dear Ms Fraser, we were very intrigued by your proposal for Dream Lover and would love to see the remainder of the book when it’s complete.”

Well, damn! Over the course of the next two months, I finished the book and sent it off.

They never bought the book but I received some lovely constructive criticism. (They actually did that back in the day.) I read and re-read the gentle rejection. I started a second book. Then, a third. I was hooked.

That third book was my first sale and still holds a special place in my heart. I’ve published over forty novels, novellas, and short stories since then. And, I’m still hooked, and I still get all goose-bumpy when I see the title “Author” next to my name.

NANCY FRASER—Jumping Across Romance Genres with Gleeful Abandon—is an Amazon Top 100 and Award-Winning author who can’t seem to decide which romance genre suits her best. So, she writes them all.

Like most authors, Nancy began writing at an early age, usually on the walls and with crayons or, heaven forbid, permanent markers. Her love of writing often made her the English teacher’s pet which, of course, resulted in a whole lot of teasing. Still, it was worth it.

Published in multiple genres, Nancy has published over thirty-five books in full-length, novella, and short format.

When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five wonderful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.




Twitter:  @nfraserauthor 


Amazon Author Page: 





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Nancy Fraser will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Monday, March 29, 2021

Review of The Cuffing Season by Tawdra Kandle


The Cuffing Season (noun) “During the fall and winter months, people who would normally rather be single or promiscuous find themselves along with the rest of the world desiring to be "Cuffed" or tied down by a serious relationship.” The Urban Dictionary

Harry Davis needs help. He’s in a dead-end retail job, when all he wants to do is write the next great American novel. Meanwhile, his best friend Preston is obsessed with finding true love before the holiday season begins, and he’s dragging Harry along for the ride, whether he likes it or not.

When Harry’s mentor suggests that the guys use their adventures to write a series of articles on seeking love from a man’s point of view, Harry isn’t sure about the idea. Still, desperate times call for desperate measures, and this could be the break he’s been seeking.

If the new column goes viral, it could change everything, opening doors Harry’s only dreamed of finding. But will he realize that the real prize is much closer—and more unexpected—than he imagined?

Book Links
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**My thoughts**
If you need a light-hearted, quick escape from the crazy world and a smidge of holiday cheer, then The Cuffing Season is a great way to do it. OK, so it is a Christmas story and I finally read it around Easter. But it's still one of those warm and fuzzy feel-good romances that made me smile on a dreary day.

Henry is a writer who is working in retail to pay the bills as he waits to find a publisher for his book. He gets the opportunity to take over his friend Vivian's column for several weeks while she is on maternity leave. Her column is about the trials and tribulations of dating, with the belief that you have to kiss Fifty Frogs before you find your prince. (And I highly recommend reading her story in the book Fifty Frogs. It is not necessary to read before this one, though.)

His column is sort of Fifty Frogs with a twist and from a man's point of view. He and best friend Preston are pursuing dating during the Cuffing Season, which is that time in the fall where you try to find someone to be your significant other in time for the holidays. (I honestly didn't realize before this book that it was a thing. And then I thought about it and it absolutely is.) Their good friend Sophie is also loosely participating, though it's not something she's particularly concerned about.

As we all know, the dating world is not an easy one to navigate. I have always felt like the holidays through in their own special challenges. And of course, when you're actively seeking out love, it becomes more elusive.

Henry definitely gets himself into some very interesting situations as he seeks his cuffing partner. And even the craziest ones seem completely true. (Tawdra Kandle does say in the beginning of the book that this is based on her son and his friends' experiences.)

I definitely snorted out loud in some spots and loved every minute of this story. I whipped through it in about an hour. And I think it helped to inspire some of my own writing that is going to have to be done now.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Read an exclusive excerpt from Night to Dawn 39 presented by Barbara Custer


Welcome to the book tour for Night to Dawn 39, a dark fantasy presented by Barbara Custer. I have an exclusive excerpt for you to read today, and if you follow the tour, you'll get to see even more. Remember to leave questions and comments along the way. Best of luck in the giveaway!

The apocalypse of the movie screen and the printed page has become a reality. A microbe threatens humanity, making Corona seem like the common cold. Innocents die to appease young and hungry gods. A doctor feeds the souls of his patients to a demon. Featuring Marge Simon, Lee Clark Zumpe, Margaret L. Carter, Rod Marsden, Matthew Wilson, and other authors.

Read an exclusive excerpt:
Marge Simon’s excerpt from The Dimeter Diaries, “Sleepless Nights”

O love, these nights I find it increasingly impossible to sleep. Mama worries so. She says I’ve grown thin as wheat and summons Doctor Seward. He prescribes an opiate. The pills are small, easy to tuck them under my tongue and pretend to swallow. Sarah brings me hot chocolate and tea cakes fresh from Cook’s oven, yet I’ve no appetite. How I wish they’d stop fussing over me. Only a few days, and they are so concerned! It’s not food that I crave—I am consumed with passion for a man I’ve never met. I’d so like to confide these feelings with my dear friend Miss Lucy, but she is terribly unwell these days. Besides, it would never do for me to be unfaithful to Jonathan. I should feel such shame—and of course I would, if these recent fantasies were real. And yet, here I am telling you my feelings!

Tonight, I have Sarah draw my bath and dismiss her. I soak the sponge and let it linger in certain places as I wash. I imagine your hands caressing my skin, your lips between my thighs—I blush to think of such a thing! But it is true, I would deny you nothing. The bath salts turn the water the color of sweet grapes. I find this quite pleasing, for it matches the veins in my arms. The scent is hypnotic. I don’t try to understand what this means, but it seems as if you are so close.

When I open the tallest windows in my room, the air is warm and moist, breathing on its own. I bite my lips into a shade you’d like, wipe away the drops.

The End

From Mina’s role in The Demeter Diaries, Marge Simon (Mina) Bryan Dietrich (Vlad), Independent Legions, 2019, Winner of the Lord Ruthven Assembly Award for Best Fiction Novel, Bram Stoker Finalist

Buy links:

Barbara lives near Phila., PA, retired from her job as a respiratory therapist. Nowadays, she chases Mylar balloons at the supermarket, enjoys a fright flick, or works on horror and science fiction tales. Many of her short stories have appeared in numerous small press magazines. She’s been editor of Night to Dawn Magazine since 2004.

Books by Barbara include When Blood Reigns, Twilight Healer, The Forgotten People, Steel Rose, City of Brotherly Death, Close Liaisons, and Life Raft: Earth. She enjoys bringing her medical background to the printed page and then blending it with supernatural horror. She maintains a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and The Writers Coffeehouse forum. Look for the photos with the Mylar balloons, and you’ll find Barbara.




Barbara Custer will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Thursday, March 25, 2021

Temporarily Out of Luck by Vicki Batman


Romance, comedy, and mystery, three of my favorite things, all wrapped up into one book! Check out an excerpt from Temporarily Out of Luck by Vicki Batman and then download your own copy. Leave questions and comments below and then follow the tour for even more. Best of luck entering the giveaway!

Great job. What man? And murder. Newly employed at Wedding Wonderland, Hattie Cooks is learning the industry from a woman she greatly admires. When her former brother-in-law is found dead in his luxury SUV, all fingers point to Hattie’s sister who is planning her own I dos.

Detective Allan Wellborn is caught between a rock and a hard place—Hattie’s family and investigating the murder of a well-connected Sommerville resident, the same loser who was once married to Hattie’s sister. Determining who’s the bad guy—or gal—isn’t going to be easy and sure to piss off someone.

Can Hattie beat the clock to find out who murdered Tracey’s ex before she is charged with the crime and her wedding is ruined?

Read an excerpt:
Sometimes, I felt like a small white mouse housed in a cage with lots of small white mice, whose playground activities involved eating, sleeping, and continually revolving on the exercise wheel. Just like one rodent friend—who I named Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky, having a field day back-flipping from the top of the spinning wheel—something happened. Unexpectedly, I found myself airborne.

Not hurt, a sense of disappointment overcame me, plus a bit of confusion, and a whole lot of colorful adjectives too numerous to list. I, mostly known as Hattie Cooks, shook off the pine shavings and joined the rat race. Sometimes, life sucked.

But wallowing? Not a good solution.

Being positive? A better one.

In most cases, a pitstop was a good idea, and I found comfort in my chocolate stockpile. And in most cases, I found empty shelves, for I had little dough to supply my habit due to the loss of my adored job as an assistant buyer at Sommerville’s top-class department store, Tucker’s, and the subsequent low-paying temporary ones I reluctantly took in the interim. Due to the expenses of rent, food, utilities, budgeting became my new compadré. However, for my recent birthday, Mom suggested friends and family provide me with treats. They were generous—gifting lots and lots of my favorite M&Ms in vast colors and flavors.

Mom’s idea totally rocked as the best birthday gift ever.

From outside my door, I heard Allan Wellborn smack the doorframe.

“You know how to find me.”

I roused from my ruminations and banged my forehead against the wall.

Available on Amazon 

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Funny, sweet, and quirky, Vicki Batman’s stories are full of her hallmark humor, romance, and will delight all readers. She has sold many award-winning and bestselling romantic comedy works to magazines and most recently, three humorous romantic mysteries. An avid Jazzerciser. Handbag lover. Mahjong player. Yoga practitioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Cat fancier. Best Mom ever. And adores Handsome Hubby.

Find Vicki Batman at:






Author Central:





Vicki Batman will be awarding a handbag, a $10 Amazon gift card, a $10 Starbucks gift card, and lots of goodies to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A Million Things to Ask a Neuroscientist by Mike Tranter PhD


Welcome to the book tour for A Million Things to Ask a Neuroscientist by Mike Tranter, PhD. Not only do you get a sneak peek inside his book, but Mike is also sharing with us what he would do if he encountered a time machine. It's always interesting to hear people's answers! Let him know your thoughts in the comments section and then follow the tour for even more fun. Best of luck in the giveaway!

A Million Things To Ask A Neuroscientist answers some of the most asked questions about the brain, making the science fun and accessible to everyone. Inside, you will journey through some of the most interesting and strange things that our brain does every single day.

Have you always wanted to know just what a memory actually is, or why we dream? What is our consciousness? Why do some people seem to ‘click’ with others? And can our brain really multi-task?

Read an excerpt:
Have you ever been standing at the top of a tall building or cliff edge and had a sudden but brief urge to jump? You have no real thought of actually doing it, and you are not depressed, suicidal, or otherwise distressed, but that urge appears nonetheless. As it turns out, neuroscience has a name for such an occurrence, high places phenomenon, sometimes termed the call to the void, and it is actually very normal and common. There are also reports of impulses to jump in front of a train, stick a hand in a fire, or turn a steering wheel into traffic. Thankfully, the person generally doesn't follow through, and although most accounts of this phenomenon are anecdotal, there is one team of scientists in Florida, USA, who decided to take another look. The research team asked 431 students about such episodes in their personal lives, and a surprising 55% acknowledged that they have experienced them at some stage in their lives.

Science has revealed to us that high place phenomenon is possibly the result of a split-second delay between two opposing brain signals. One signal is based on our survival instinct that notices danger and tells us that we should avoid it, such as falling from a great height, or a train hitting us in the face. Another signal coming from our more logical brain tells us that we are relatively safe where we are, and there is no real threat to our survival. The resulting signals are interpreted by our brain - now somewhat confused, for it to relay this rather bizarre message and we experience the high place phenomenon. So, if you ever have a sudden impulse to jump off the top of Mount Everest, just remember that it is normal, but please don't do it anyway.

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You discover a time machine. Where and when would you go and why?

This is so interesting, and I have thought about it before. I always seem to think that I would go back in time to see historical events with my own eyes and to have a real first-hand experience. I could visit Michelangelo as he painted the Sistine chapel, or even go back to the age of the dinosaurs, and see the tropical paradise of the Earth, before being eaten by a T-rex.

However, the more I think about it, the more I think I would journey into the future. Nothing too far, but perhaps 1000 years. I think by this time, we would have mastered space travel, not only to the planets in our solar system, but potentially other worlds too. Although it would be normal in the year 3021, for me it would be incredible, and technically, I would be the first human to travel amongst the planets and stars, given that I am a thousand years younger than everyone else.

I would also love to see the technology that we have developed by this point. Although it would be almost impossible to know how to use any of it. Can you imagine William Wallace, the Scottish Warrior from 1297, turning up to your house and using your microwave to heat up a snack? There would be confusion all over. That is a hurdle I would need to cross, but that’s ok, it would still be amazing to see, even it if would be confusing for me.

As for the ‘where’, I think it would probably just be in the UK. At least it will be a little familiar to me, even if it is 1000 years in the future.

It would also be fascinating to see what becomes of us humans, and how Earth is holding up. Did we destroy it? Will we be living on Mars by this point? Did we recreate the dinosaurs and have it go disastrously wrong only for Jeff Goldblum to save us?

Who knows, but it is something that I would love to find out.

Dr Mike Tranter is from the North of England and studied how drugs work in our body, but it wasn't long before he found his true calling as a neuroscientist. After a PhD in neuroscience, he spent years in research labs all over the world, studying how the brain works. Although, it is his prominent rise as a science communicator, opening up the world of neuroscience to everybody, that he enjoys the most.


Instagram: @TheEnglishScientist

Michael Tranter PhD will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Review of Eat Your Heart Out (Starting Over #2) by Shirley Goldberg

 It's the second book in Shirley Goldberg's Starting Over series, tackling life while trying to date again in "middle age," or in other words, those post-40-year-old years. It's not for the faint of heart. Read an excerpt as well as my thoughts on this book. Be sure to follow the tour for even more. And best of luck entering the giveaway!

When a tyrant in stilettos replaces her beloved boss, and her ex snags her coveted job, teacher Dana Narvana discovers there are worse things than getting dumped on Facebook. Time for the BFF advice squad. Alex—hunky colleague, quipster, and cooking pal extraordinaire is Dana’s staunchest ally. So what’s with the smooching after hours? And why won’t this grown man make up his mind?

Actor turned teacher Alex Bethany craves a family of his own. Newly hotified, he’s now got the confidence to try online dating. Meanwhile he’s sending Dana mixed messages in the kissing department. After a surprising event rocks his world, Alex panics, certain he’s blown his chances with his special person. Funny and bittersweet, Dana and Alex’s story will have you rooting for them all the way to dessert.

Read an excerpt:
“He’s here. Don’t look!” Noelle’s voice dropped to a whisper. “With a date. Your nine o’clock. He’s facing this way.”

“Who?” Noelle had a knack for making something as mundane as vacuuming into the dramatic.

“Oh, for God’s sake, our own former Mr. Big. Who else?”

If I turned my head and shot my eyeballs to the far left, I could see Alex in profile. With a blonde. I turned a few degrees more, tilting my neck, keeping my head straight.

“It’s not working,” Noelle said.

“What’s not working?”

“It’s obvious you’re looking at him.”

Seeing him on his home turf, relaxed, in charge, and preparing dinner had made me imagine Alex in all sorts of homey mini scenarios far removed from the classroom. Those knives. The pungent scent issuing from the old-fashioned crock pot. And that apron! Talking, getting real, sparring with his friend Jewel. And now with a date, so…unexpected. “What should I do?” A ridge of unease in my stomach.

“For freak’s sake. We’re acting like adolescents.” Whatever else she said was lost in the rising volume of talkers outdoing one another, cell phone alerts, and behind the scenes shouts and pans clanging whenever the doors to the kitchen whipped open.

“Should I wave?”

Noelle shrugged, then turned and aimed a jumbo smile in Alex’s direction at the same time I gave into sheer nosiness, twisting around to get a good look.

His interest level in his date, judging by how far he was leaning over the table to talk to her? Looked like a 9.5 out of ten.

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**My thoughts**
Shirley Goldberg does it again in the second installment of her Starting Over series, about what it's like to date after the age of 40. This time, she is tackling divorce, and more importantly, what it's like trying to date after major physical and health changes. A lot of people around this age go through the process of dropping a lot of weight and starting over again. It's not easy to do, because you still have your mental and emotional demons to drop. 

Our society has a fixation on food that permeates almost all areas of our lives. And it complicates how we view ourselves and our relationships. This story delves into that from different perspectives. And those perspectives are extremely honest and something you'll see every single day, from the stories we tell ourselves to what people around us are saying. No matter your size, I'm sure you'll recognize something.

And then of course, the dating part. How do you tackle dating later in life? Then there is the whole friends issue with the potential to date. And if you do decide to date, how will that go? Add in the complications of also being coworkers and the identity of the new vice-principal. Don't even get me started on their new principal at school. I had some flashbacks to my teaching years that I'd rather forget.

There's a lot of REAL in this story, with plenty of moments to make you smile, as well as to make you think. It's not a lighthearted rom-com, but it is still quite enjoyable. I'm glad I picked up this one as well.

I received a requested review copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Shirley Goldberg is a writer, novelist, and former ESL and French teacher who’s lived in Paris, Crete, and Casablanca. She writes about men and women of a certain age starting over. Her website offers a humorous look at living single. Her books FINISH THIS and dating in mid life, and her friends like to guess which stories are true. Eat Your Heart Out is the second book in the series Starting Over. Middle Ageish, the first, is available now. Her characters believe you should never leave home without your sense of humor and Shirley agrees.

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Ellerslie by William Francis


Enjoy a blend of history, paranormal, and mystery in Ellerslie, a new book from William Francis. Check out this excerpt before you download your own copy and be sure to follow the tour for even more! Best of luck entering the giveaway!

Did you know author F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda lived in a haunted house?

It’s the Jazz Age, it’s Prohibition and aviator Charles Lindbergh is the most famous person in America. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald rents a mansion in Edgemoor, Delaware called Ellerslie hoping for a quiet retreat so that he can write his next novel following The Great Gatsby.

April Ross, the first and only female history major at the University of Delaware, is commissioned by the owner of Ellerslie to research the estate’s history for a potential sale. At least, that’s what April is told. In the days ahead, April’s historical research uncovers Ellerslie’s former owners dating back to 1810. She interacts with the Fitzgeralds, yet endures unexplained occurrences and visits by an unknown woman. Against her better judgement, April eventually accepts that the woman is a ghost and realizes that her true purpose is to find out who this woman is, or was, and what happened to her in real life.

Read an excerpt:
The door had swung violently away from April and slammed shut.

“How did that happen?”

Nobody closed the door, nor did she feel a gust of wind. It would take a strong wind to close the heavy door. So how had it shut on its own?

April cautiously turned the metal door latch and peeked into the hall. She looked left. She looked right. Nobody was present. She glanced across the way and might’ve suspected the maid Elena, but the maid was busy rehanging Zelda’s clothes. So without a logical explanation for what happened April had no choice except to shrug it off and close the door.

April stripped to her slip and turned the handle to the sink’s hot water facet. The plumbing made a low rumbling noise for a couple of seconds before rust-colored water spilled out. April wasn’t alarmed. The same discoloration happened at her family home. And like home, she waited a few seconds for warm and clear water to appear.

She grabbed a bar of Pear’s soap already at the sink and started to wash her hands when a familiar aroma struck her nose.


April knew the fragrance well. It was her mother’s favorite. Mama rubbed the oil on her face and hands in the belief that it calmed the skin and reduced wrinkles.

Something flashed in the mirror.

Like the sensation of being watched, April felt someone, or some-thing stood near, very near. It was close enough to give her goosebumps on her arms and raise the hair on the back of her neck.


There was a clawfoot tub in the back half of the bathroom. The hot and cold-water valves were turning on their own.


Water shot from the two spigots.

April’s eyes bulged. “Sweet Jesus.”

She hurried to the tub, shut off the flow, and then stared dumbfounded at the draining water. Her heart pounded as she scratched her head and wondered out loud. “How did that happen? What’s going on?”


A tiny crack developed on the upper right corner of the mirror.

April sucked in air and watched in disbelief as a jagged fissure slowly spread diagonally across the mirror, about to split the glass in two.


April ducked and covered her head as the mirror shattered and shards of glass clinked into the porcelain sink and scattered onto the tile floor.

When she raised her head, April stared at the glassless frame awestruck and bewildered. “Sweet Jesus, it really happened. I didn’t imagine it. It’s not a delusion.”

April then experienced a paralyzing fear as she felt something like fingertips caress the back of her neck.


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Raised in Newark, Delaware, William spends his days working in Corporate America and writing about the First State. He achieved a Masters Degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, but also writes non-fiction. Through Arcadia Publishing he has produced 5 books related to Delaware: The DuPont Highway, Along the Kirkwood Highway, Along the Christina River, Building Interstate in 95 in Delaware and Newark Then & Now. Fiction titles include: A Life Told to None, The Umpire, Seacrest, and the five-star The Katie Dugan Case. Whether his books are fact or fiction, William hopes to entertain as well as inform and leave the reader with a satisfying experience.

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