Friday, September 18, 2020

Blog Tour: Chance of a Lifetime

 

Today I am excited to be a part of Harlequin's blog tour for Chance of a Lifetime by Jude Deveraux and Tara Sheets and share an official excerpt from the novel with you.  You guys know I love a good time travel/time slip novel and this one sounds really good.  Chance of a Lifetime just came out this week and it's one of my most anticipated novels for the fall!  



Learn More About Chance of a Lifetime:

 


Synopsis: "In one century she loved him madly, and in another she wants nothing to do with him

In 1844 Ireland, Liam O’Connor, a rogue and a thief, fell madly in love with a squire’s daughter and unwittingly altered the future. Shy and naive Cora McLeod thought Liam was the answer to her prayers. But the angels disagreed and they’ve been waiting for the right moment in time to step in.

Now Liam finds himself reunited with his beloved Cora in Providence Falls, North Carolina. The angels have given Liam a task. He must make sure Cora falls in love with another man—the one she was supposed to marry before Liam interfered. But this Cora is very different from the innocent girl who fell for Liam in the past. She’s a cop and has a confidence and independence he wasn’t expecting. She doesn’t remember Liam or their past lives, nor is she impressed with his attempts to guide her in any way.

Liam wants Cora for himself, but with his soul hanging in the balance, he must choose between a stolen moment in time or an eternity of damnation."

 

To learn more about Jude Deveraux visit her website or find her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.  You can also learn more about Tara Sheets by visiting her website, or connecting with her on Facebook or Instagram.  You can also buy Chance of a Lifetime at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Indiebound.   



An Excerpt From Chance of a Lifetime: 

 
Prologue

For an angel as old as Agon, there was nothing new under the sun, or above. After thousands of years studying the human condition, he’d pretty much seen it all. Time didn’t lie. It proved over and over again that human beings were flawed. They led messy lives. They didn’t always learn from their mistakes. And yet, as he swooped into the Department of Destiny and prepared for another day of judging souls, he remained ever the optimist. Because time also had a way of proving that even in the face of all odds, love would prevail.
He landed silently in the misty chamber and slapped his associate on the back. “What’s up, Samael?”
 The shorter angel jerked, fumbling for the clipboard in his hands. He gave Agon a scathing look of disapproval. “How many times must I tell you not to sneak up on me like that?”
 “Oh, yes. Sorry,” Agon said breezily. “Who’s up next?”
Samael checked the clipboard with a heavy sigh. Pale curls framed his round face. Next to Agon’s imposing figure and dark hair, Samael looked almost boyish. But he’d been in charge of the Department of Destiny for over three hundred years, and he ran it with a stoic sense of justice that made him seem much older. “A grave disappointment, to be sure. The soul of Liam O’Connor stands judgment today.”
“Ah.” Agon shook his head sadly. “Poor Irish ruffian. Such a tragic love story, Liam and the fair Cora.”
“Those two should never have fallen in love,” Samael said with a scowl. “It shattered all of our plans. For over a century! So many destinies were ruined because of it.” He tucked his wings neatly behind his back, then glanced at Agon. “Are you ready to call him in?”
“Yes.” Agon turned toward the wall of mist and pasted an encouraging smile on his face.
“I told you not to do that,” Samael said. “This is serious business. We must reflect the gravity of the situation through our appearance and mannerisms.”
“But humans like smiles,” Agon said. “I thought perhaps it would make him feel more comfortable.”
“His soul hangs in the balance between heaven and hell, and we’re about to judge it,” Samael said flatly. “Who could possibly be comfortable with that?”
 “Right.” Agon arranged his features to appear as bleak and unyielding as the surrounding chamber.
“Much better,” Samael said with a nod. Then he raised his hand and called into the void. “I summon the soul of Liam O’Connor.”
Like a cannonball hurled through a cloud, a man shot out of the mist, tumbling head over heels to land before the angels in a tangle of curses and grunts. Unlike other souls who were called to the Department of Destiny, Liam did not rise on unsteady feet, shaking with fear, terrified to stand judgment for his past life’s choices. Instead, he jumped up, slapping at wisps of fog still clinging to his hair and clothing, dark eyes casually scanning the room.
Samael regarded him coolly. “Do you know why you’ve been summoned to the Chamber of Judgment?”
Liam raised a dark brow. “Judgment day, I’d imagine?” For someone who stood on the brink of eternal damnation, he was far too nonchalant. But the angels knew this was part of his act. Liam O’Connor was no stranger to deception.
“We have reviewed your past life and found you wanting,” Samael said. He flicked his hand, and moving images suddenly appeared in the misty wall. Liam picking pockets. Breaking into houses. Liam running through the forest carrying a bag of stolen jewels. A stagecoach in the background with victims shouting after him. A musket ball shattering the branch of a tree near his head. Liam laughing in the face of danger.
 “You were a thief,” Samael said. “And you stole from innocent people. Often.”
“Well…” Liam crossed his arms and leaned against the wall of mist. “Crops were failing. I only stole to help put food on the table. Simple as that.”
 “Do not attempt to lie to us,” Samael said coldly. “We can see into your soul, Liam O’Connor, and we know the truth. You enjoyed stealing. You reveled in your life as a thief.”
 “Fine.” Liam pushed off the wall and began to pace, dragging the tips of his fingers through the roiling fog. “I did enjoy thieving, and I was good at it, too. I was never any good at farming. But I kept my brother’s family from starving, didn’t I? That has to count for something.”
Samael gazed at him sternly. “You didn’t only steal objects.” He flicked his hand and another image appeared, a sweet, innocent young woman with glossy blond curls and rosy cheeks. She had a round, pretty face with a nose just a little too prominent, and a smile just a little too trusting. She was holding out a rose.
“Cora,” Liam breathed. He stepped closer, but the image of the young woman vanished. “Bring her back!” He grasped at the fog with both hands. “Let me see her again.”
 “She wasn’t meant for you, ruffian,” Samael said. “You stole her from her fiancĂ©.”
 “But I loved her,” Liam shot back. “And she—”
“You interfered with her destiny,” Samael interrupted. “She was supposed to marry that man, and together they were going to raise a child who would someday help the world.”
Liam scowled. “Her fiancĂ© didn’t deserve her. She wanted me. It was me she loved in the end.”
“Ah, yes,” Samael said icily. “The end.”
Liam glanced away.
“Things ended very badly for her, as you well know,” Samael continued. “For both of you. And now, because of you, Cora’s soul has never found peace. In every new life we’ve given her, she’s afraid to fall in love. She never lives long enough to fulfill her destiny.” He flicked his hand again.
 This time, terrible images appeared. Cora as a young nurse, caring for soldiers during an outbreak of scarlet fever…dying in a hospital bed. Cora as a nanny, rushing to save a young child from the path of a runaway horse…dying in the street. Cora working in a factory during WWII…dying in an explosion.
The angels knew Liam wouldn’t understand some of the things he was seeing, but the message was very clear. Cora’s life always ended in tragedy.
“Enough!” Liam flung his hands up, scrubbing his face. “Just tell me my fate. Is it to be hell, then?”
The angels exchanged glances.
“It is true you’ve done much wrong in your life,” Samael said. “But you’ve also done some good. For this reason, we’re going to give you a chance at redemption.”
 Liam’s head shot up. He glanced back and forth between the two angels.
 “Cora is on earth again in this twenty-first century,” Samael said. “You must make sure she fulfills her true destiny in this life.”
“But…how?”
 “There is a man named Finley Walsh. He is her true soul mate—the man she must marry. The man she was destined to marry until you ruined everything. This time, you will see that Cora falls in love with the right man.”
 Liam scowled and kicked the floor, displacing wisps of fog. He grumbled under his breath, then glanced up. “Will she remember me?”
 “Of course not,” Samael said. “Certainly not as you remember her. The role you play this time will be…much different.”
Liam narrowed his eyes but remained silent.
 “You have three months to complete the task,” Samael continued in clipped tones. “We will bestow upon you some knowledge of the current century, but it won’t be an easy transition. If anyone questions your struggles with modern technology, just explain you’re from a very rural town.”
 Liam raised his chin. “What if I tell them the truth?”
 Samael let out a huff of amusement. “That you’re a transplanted soul from 1844 Ireland? Good luck with that.” He slid the clipboard into a pocket of mist. “Three months, Liam O’Connor. Get Cora to fall in love with Finley. It is imperative that this happens. If you fail—and that includes sleeping with her—you will be sent straight to…”
All the light in the chamber vanished, plunging them into icy darkness.
“Hell.” Samael’s voice echoed off the chamber walls like a war drum.
 “And if I succeed?” Liam whispered.
The light snapped back on.
“Heaven,” Samael said matter-of-factly. “Now, off you go.” He started to lift his hand.
“Wait!” Liam cried. “If Cora’s been on earth living all these different lives, where have I been the whole time?”
 “Suspended up here,” Samael said. “Waiting for us to decide if you deserved a chance at redemption. I do hope you are worthy of it. Goodbye, ruffian.” He waved his hand a final time, and a hole opened in the mist beneath Liam’s feet.
They could hear him yelling for a long time as he fell, even after the hole closed.
Agon chuckled. “That was a rather dramatic exit, don’t you think?”
Samael shrugged. “I thought the moment could use a bit of theatrics.”
“And the flickering lights with the echoing voice?” Agon elbowed him in the ribs. “Nice job.”
Samael pressed his lips together and tried to look stern, but Agon could tell he was pleased.
They turned to the wall of mist as the image of Liam appeared. His body floated to earth, landing softly on a bed of leaves on the forest floor. He glanced around in a daze, his lips slowly curving into a smile.
 “He always loved the forest,” Agon said wistfully.
“I thought he could use a moment here to reflect on his past, before we send him to work,” Samael said.
 Liam’s eyes drooped. His dark lashes fluttered once. Twice. And then he slipped into a deep, dream-filled sleep.
“You didn’t tell him the truth.” Agon turned to Samael. “About the child.”
 “He’s not ready to hear that—and neither is she.”
Agon glanced back to the image of Liam’s slumbering form. “Do you think he’ll succeed?”
Samael frowned. “What’s that human saying about a snowball’s chance?”
Agon shook his head. “It eludes me.”
“No matter.” Samael expanded his wings and stretched. “Time will tell.”
 “Yes,” Agon mused. “Time always does.”

Excerpted from Chance of a Lifetime by Jude Deveraux and Tara Sheets, Copyright © Deveraux Inc. Published by MIRA Books.
 
 

So, what do you guys think? Will you be adding Chance of a Lifetime to your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.   

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Bradley's Dragons




I love sharing a good fantasy with my eldest son and there's nothing better than seeing him get lost in a great book.  That's why I am excited to share with you guys today a fantastic new middle grade fantasy, Bradley's Dragons by Patrick Matthews, and host a giveaway for it, too! I know I love curling up with a good fantasy, especially with fall approaching and families staying home more often than usual. 




Learn More About Bradley's Dragons:




Publisher’s Synopsis: "The Hunters are Coming. The first time a hunter came for him, Bradley Nash was only nine years old. That was three years ago. Now, he lives with his family in a Florida trailer park. He doesn’t remember the attack, doesn’t know anything about hunters, or dragons, or even magic. As his twelfth birthday approaches, however, his peaceful life starts falling apart. The hunters are coming, and if Bradley doesn’t figure out exactly who and what he is, everything he’s ever known will be destroyed. “The novel teems with drama from the first page, and readers will be swept up by intrigue and action.” —The Children’s Book Review
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Second Story Up | July 7, 2020 | ISBN-13: 978-1733077743  
You can purchase Bradley's Dragons at Amazon or Bookshop.org.   To learn more about Patrick Matthews, you can visit his website and also visit the website for Bradley's Dragons



The Giveaway:



I've partnered with The Children's Book Review and Second Story Up to share with you guys a giveaway for your own hardcover copy of Bradley's Dragons signed by Patrick Matthews and a dragon sun catcher by the Glassy Geek.  Eight other winners will receive hardcover copies of Bradley's Dragons signed by Patrick Matthews.  The giveaway begins September 1, 2020 at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends September 30, 2020 at 11:59 P.M. MT.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Another Summer Is Over.....


And another Summer Kickoff Feature has come to an end.  Guys, I had a blast sharing some of the best beach reads with you all this summer. This year it was an especially challenging and different summer, so I truly relished the opportunity to armchair travel to some beautiful places through all the fantastic beach reads. While I didn't read as many as I had hoped (do I ever???), now that fall is upon us, I am officially concluding this feature.

But that doesn't mean I won't be enjoying a few beach reads from time to time.  2020 pretty much requires it, right? I can always use a good feel-good read with a coastal setting!

So, what were your favorite beach reads of the summer? Here are my favorites:

Favorite Beach Reads:


 

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand
Beach Read by Emily Henry




Runner-up: Summer Longing by Jamie Brenner




 Favorite Feel-Good Beach Reads:


 

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
Girls of Summer by Nancy Thayer




Favorite Historical Beach Reads:


 

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline
The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton





Favorite "Smart" Beach Read:



The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd




Favorite Beach Read By a Debut Author:



Summer Darlings by Beatrice Lea Foster


Favorite Beach Read With a Side of a Mystery:



Hello, Summer by Mary Kay Andrews


The Beach Reads That Are Still On My List:


Here are a few of the beach reads that I didn't get to this summer that I am hoping to pick up this fall or winter when I need a good escape:



  


500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan
The Second Home by Christina Clancy
The House on Fripp Island by Rebecca Kauffman


 

East Coast Girls by Kerry Kletter
Just a Boy and a Girl and in a Little Canoe by Sarah Mlynowski
The Friendship List by Susan Mallery

Have you read any of these books? Which one should I read first this fall or winter when I need a good escape? Let me know in the comments below.


So, now I need to know what were your favorite beach reads of the summer? What do you think of my list?  To see all the beach reads that I featured during this year's Summer Kickoff, check out my list here and past year's lists are there as well.

Till next time!


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Audio Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Pub. Date: May 5, 2020
Publisher: HarperAudio
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "A wedding celebration turns dark and deadly in this deliciously wicked and atmospheric thriller reminiscent of Agatha Christie from the New York Times bestselling author of The Hunting Party.  The bride – The plus one – The best man – The wedding planner – The bridesmaid – The body  On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding fit for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.  But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.  And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?"

Imagine a celebrity wedding on a remote island off of Ireland and you pretty much have the setting for The Guest List.  A reality star and a magazine publisher are getting married amidst family, friends, and some unexpected bumps in the road.  There are so many secrets lurking on this atmospheric island and slowly they come to a head.  Combine this with wedding festivities and alcohol--you've got yourself a stressful wedding. Plus, someone gives the bride, Julie, an anonymous note. It says to not marry Will, the groom and that he isn't a good guy.  Yikes!  Good thing they have a wedding planner to deal with all the other fiascos.  What else could go wrong? Well, lots. You've got the groomsmen partaking in an old college drinking game. Cue alcoholic shenanigans that are sure to piss people off.  You have a bridesmaid who pretty much doesn't care and then there's the horrible toasts. Oh, and did I mention that someone ends up dead? The Guest List by Lucy Foley is a thrilling audio book that kept me guessing.

I wasn't sure how I was going to handle so many narrators in The Guest List, especially since it's an audio book. Was I going to be able to really distinguish between each guest's point of view, because there's eight of them AND an omniscient narrator. However, I am happy to report that Foley handles this very well and it definitely kept the pace of the book brisk.  At first not too much was happening that would really raise your eyebrow except for the eerie location.  The remote island acted as a character in and of itself, which is very reminiscent of an Agatha Christie mystery.  I was starting to think the wedding location was haunted and maybe that was the source of their problems.  However, once we got more back stories on the various characters and flashbacks to previous events, I realized there's a lot of pent up resentment and past issues that are not sorted out.  Nothing like a wedding and an open bar to really bring that out in people.

If you love a thrilling tale that is slow to build up and includes many narrators who all harbor many secrets, give The Guest List a try. In fact, it's the perfect tale to curl up with this fall! 

Have you read or listened to this book?  Do you enjoy reading mysteries and thrillers in the fall? Let me know your thoughts below.


Sunday, September 13, 2020

Blog Tour and Giveaway: A Whale of the Wild by Rosanne Parry



Pages: 336
Genre: Children's/Middle Grade Fiction
Pub. Date: September 1, 2020
Publisher: Greenwillow
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Goodreads says, "In the stand-alone companion to the New York Times–bestselling A Wolf Called Wander, a young orca whale must lead her brother on a tumultuous journey to be reunited with their pod. This gorgeously illustrated animal adventure novel explores family bonds, survival, global warming, and a changing seascape. Includes information about orcas and their habitats.  For Vega and her family, salmon is life. And Vega is learning to be a salmon finder, preparing for the day when she will be her family’s matriarch. But then she and her brother Deneb are separated from their pod when a devastating earthquake and tsunami render the seascape unrecognizable. Vega must use every skill she has to lead her brother back to their family. The young orcas face a shark attack, hunger, the deep ocean, and polluted waters on their journey. Will Vega become the leader she’s destined to be?  A Whale of the Wild weaves a heart-stopping tale of survival with impeccable research on a delicate ecosystem and threats to marine life."



Vega is an orca and lives with her family in the beautiful, and sometimes dangerous, Salish Sea.  Vega hopes to become a wayfinder, or salmon hunter, for her family and she is encouraged to find the gathering place that her family needs to locate in order to hunt for salmon. Things don't go smoothly for Vega and this leaves her questioning many things.  To top it off, her mother is pregnant and Vega hopes that this will be the little sister she has always dreamed of--a friend, a companion, and so much more.  Again, things don't go well for Vega's mother and the baby whale, so this leaves Vega even more distressed than before as she leaves her pod behind.  Deneb, her younger brother, finds her just before more tragedy strikes and now they find they are both separated from their pod and out in the open ocean.  Vega knows that now more than ever, it's up to her to lead not only her brother safely home, but get herself home too as her family is counting on her in A Whale of the Wild by Rosanne Parry.

Even though Vega is an orca whale, I think many kids can relate to her struggles in A Whale of the Wild. Vega must find out where she fits in, she must have confidence, she must deal with life's disappointments, and ultimately, the sadness of grief. These are all aspects of Vega that I found myself relating to as well.  Parry does a great job making Vega relatable despite the fact that she is an orca whale.  When Vega loses her little sister during birth, it just about broke my heart.  I kept remembering the news report about the orca whale who lost her calf at birth and carried her around for quite some time.  If that doesn't tug on your heart strings, I don't know what will.

What I especially appreciated about A Whale of the Wild was the environmental themes throughout. Teaching children to respect animals, to not pollute the ocean, and take care of our environment is crucial. I think younger children can appreciate these important lessons especially after reading stories like this. Children learn so much about the marine ecosystem when they read A Whale of the Wild; plus, it may inspire young children to help the orcas, learn about global warming, and what we can do to preserve the enviornemnt for future generations. 

A Whale of the Wild includes some beautiful illustrations that I know children will appreciate.  As an educator and an ocean life fanatic, I also appreciated the maps, wildlife facts, and resources for children to learn even more.  I think this book would be a great addition to an ocean/sea life unit for upper elementary to lower middle grade students.  Fans of animal stories, as well as ocean life, will love going on this adventure with Vega and her family.

Are you a fan of animal fiction? I love any and all stories that deal with the ocean and its creatures. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  You can purchase your own copy of A Whale of the Wild at AmazonAudible, or at Bookshop.org.  Also, you can also visit HarperCollins Children's Books on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.  





The Giveaway:



I am very excited to share with you guys today a giveaway for A Whale of the Wild. I have partnered with The Children's Book Review and HarperCollins Children's Books to host a giveaway for a copy of your own and there will be five winners!  The giveaway begins September 1, 2020 at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends September 15, 2020 at 11:59 P.M. MT.  Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


 
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