Monday, September 24, 2018

Falling in Love featuring Aubrey Wynne

Dante’s Gift
(A Chicago Christmas Book 1)
by Aubrey Wynne
Dante’s Gift (A Chicago Christmas Book 1) by Aubrey Wynne

During the month of September, we will be featuring 20 fabulous authors who write clean romance. Today we feature Aubrey Wynne with Dante’s Gift, available for only $0.99.

This book blast and giveaway is hosted by I Am A Reader and Clean Wholesome Romance.

Kathleen James has put her practical side away for once and looks forward to the perfect romantic evening: an intimate dinner with the man of her dreams - and an engagement ring. She is not prepared to hear that he wants to bring his grandmother back from Italy to live with him.
Dominic Lawrence has planned this marriage proposal for six months. Nothing can go wrong - until his Nonna calls. Now he must interrupt the tenderest night of Katie’s life with the news that another woman will be under their roof.
When Antonia’s sister dies, she finds herself longing to be back in the states. A wartime bride from the ‘40s, she knows how precious love can be. Can her own story of an American soldier and a very special collie once again bring two hearts together at Christmas?

The scent of turkey met her at Dom’s front door. For a moment, apprehension swept through her at the thought of helping in the kitchen. Then a handsome man stood before her, and she couldn’t wipe the foolish smile off her face. Instead of saying something stupid, she held out the wine.
“In a holiday bag, no less,” Dom said, eyebrows raised. He stepped back to let her in, grabbed her hand, and spun her around to face him. “You look stunning.”
“I just thought that the burlap would give it extra protection if I dropped it, and they only seemed to have holiday wine bags in stock and—”
One finger covered her mouth. As his head slowly lowered, she could feel his breath on her face; heat raced through her core. By the time their lips touched, her legs had turned to jello; she clung to him for support.
Gently pushing her toward the wall, he pressed his length against her and whispered, “I need to make you mine, legally, before I lose all control. You have no idea the affect you have on me, do you?”
“I think that is the most romantic thing anyone has ever said to me,” she said breathless. “Kiss me like that again… please?”
“I’d be happy to oblige if you tell me that isn’t my grandmother standing in the doorway watching us.”
Katie looked over to see Antonia, a wide grin on her face, and quickly pushed on the hard chest that pinned her to the wall. She ran a hand through her hair as the blood rushed to her face.
“Oh Nico, such good Italian blood in you. And not even any mistletoe out yet.” Antonia wiped her hands on her apron and waved to the young couple. “Come now, we have work to do before we play.”
The two followed her in like reprimanded children who showed no remorse, holding hands and snickering. This is silly but it feels so good. Katie accepted the apron and as she pulled the straps behind her, strong hands covered hers.
“Let me,” he whispered in her ear. “I’m good at tying knots.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
Winner of the Golden Quill, Aspen Gold, and Heart of Excellence
Rone finalist for audio
Reviewers Top Pick by Books and Benches
“The ultimate Hallmark Channel romance, this is an excellent read for a bad day or a lazy afternoon.” ~ InD’Tale Magazine
“Truly romantic… a book that you will not be able to put down.” ~ Books Are Love
Dante’s Gift is a wonderfully poignant holiday romantic tale that intertwines two love stories…” ~ Jersey Girl Book Review
Dante's Gift is a magical romantic read.” ~ Mousey Books

About the Author
Aubrey Wynne
Bestselling and award-winning author Aubrey Wynne resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule and barn cats. She is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. Obsessions include history, travel, trail riding and all things Christmas.
Her short stories, Merry Christmas, Henry and Pete’s Mighty Purty Privies have won Readers Choice Awards. Dante’s Gift and Paper Love received the 2016 Golden Quill, Aspen Gold, Heart of Excellence and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.
In addition to her Chicago Christmas novellas, Aubrey will release two more Regency romances in 2018. The Wicked Earls’ Club will release again in 2019. Wynne’s medieval fantasy series launched in 2017 with Rolf’s Quest, winner of the NTRWA Great Expectations and Maggie finalist.

Enter the blast-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

This Week on Books Direct - 23 September 2018

This Week on Books Direct -
23 September 2018

This Week on Books Direct -  23 September 2018

Here's a list of some great articles you may have missed this week. Enjoy!

Steampunk! What's #Steampunk? by Laura Strickland for Brenda Whiteside
Laura gives us a lesson about the Steampunk genre.

Steampunk! What's #Steampunk? by Laura Strickland for Brenda Whiteside

The novelist had been shortlisted for Swedish award running in place of scandal-hit honor, but says he wishes to concentrate on writing instead.

Haruki Murakami Withdraws From Alternative Nobel Prize by Alison Flood for The Guardian

Pennsylvania's Department of Corrections is planning to ban free book donations to inmates by mail, claiming that this is a “primary avenue for drugs” to enter prisons.

Pennsylvania To End Prison Book Donations, Forcing Inmates Onto Pricey Ebook Platform by Rob Beschizza for BoingBoing

Chair of judges Bidisha pays tribute to Don’t Call Us Dead’s “passionate and very contemporary” verse.

Danez Smith Becomes Youngest Winner Of Forward Poetry Prize by Alison Flood for The Guardian

And speaking of young:
The 27-year-old British author’s debut Everything Under is up for the £50,000 award, while Michael Ondaatje and the first nominated graphic novel are knocked out

Man Booker 2018: Daisy Johnson Becomes Youngest Ever Author Shortlisted For Prize by Alison Flood for The Guardian

Toolbox 14: Query Revamping by Anna Simpson for emaginette
Anna talks about revamping her query letter to publishers. Don’t forget to read the comments below the post!

Toolbox 14: Query Revamping by Anna Simpson for emaginette

Further to last week’s story:
Bob Woodward's Fear: Trump in the White House has sold more than 1.1 million copies in its first week of release, making it the fastest-selling book in the history of its publisher, Simon & Schuster.

Bob Woodward's Fear Is The Fastest-Selling Book In Simon & Schuster's History by Michael Schaub for LA Times

Infographic: The 7 Steps Of The Writing Process by Wendy Van Camp for No Wasted Ink
A nice visual reminder.

Infographic: The 7 Steps Of The Writing Process by Wendy Van Camp for No Wasted Ink

The Open Book in Scotland is an Airbnb bookstore residency program that allows guests to rent the shop and apartment and play Scottish bookstore owner.

You Could Run A Bookstore By the Sea: The Open Book Scotland by BookBub

A quick way to boost blog traffic is by refreshing old blog posts by improving the content and updating any outdated information.

8 Ways To Update Old Blog Posts To Boost Blog Traffic by Designer Blogs

In the short TED-Ed video above, scripted by Poe scholar Scott Peeples of the College of Charleston, we are introduced to many of the qualities of form and style that make Poe distinctive, and that made him stand out among a crowd of popular horror writers of the time.

In this post, we'll look at how a writer can plot a compelling, believable character arc - starting with a classic story of good triumphing over evil.

How To Write A Compelling Character Arc by Reedsy

If you enjoyed this blog post, please visit the other This Week posts for links to more great articles.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

"She is Nature" by Carlton Grant

She is Nature
by Carlton Grant

She is Nature by Carlton Grant

Author Carlton Grant stops by today for an interview and to share an excerpt from his debut short story collection, She is Nature.

She is Nature is a book of short stories shining a highlight on the importance of women's nature.

“Lexi, stop walking like we don’t have shit to talk about. Hurry up!”
Marcia Collins always has something to talk about. And what she means is, listen to my escapades and feelings without judging me or opening your mouth. Truthfully, if she wasn’t what you would call a friend, I would consider her the school whore. Fuck it, I still consider her that.
“Glad you decided to glide over. So guess what happened this weekend?”
I know better to respond to these vain questions. I made the mistake of answering once and she accused me of not being sensitive to her ‘serious matter’.
“Well, if you’re not going to guess, I’ll tell you. You know Eric Marsh? Well, last night I was at the mall, and as I’m coming out of Pink, I bump into him. Like, I literally, bump into him. My panties fall out of my bag onto the floor and guess what?”
Once again, just another set up.
“He picks them up, looks at them and says it’s good to know you appreciate lace and hands them back to me with a smile. I didn’t even know what to say. That’s a lie. I told him, don’t mistake class for a lack of taste and licked my lip. I promise you he was turned on. He didn’t even respond, he just raised his eyebrows and walked away. So what do you think? I should give him my number right?”
“Yeah. Sounds like a regular ole Casablanca moment.”
“I knew you’d understand. He’s in the line; I’m going to go make my move.”
There’s no reasoning with her. My sarcasm always becomes exactly what she wants to hear. My eyes follow her as she shamelessly flips her hair and grabs Eric by the belt. It would shock me if she didn’t become the madam of a brothel. I laugh and turn my attention to the cafeteria doors, just to see an unfamiliar face walk out. I don’t know what it was, because I’m no stranger to engaging, but my breath was being siphoned.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Interview with the Author
Carlton Grant joins me today to discuss his new book, She is Nature.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
I recommend it to readers aged 18+.
What sparked the idea for this book?
There was a stage of my life, when I was in college, where I lived with enough girlfriends and dealt with enough situations involving females, not to mention the relationship I have with my female relatives. This book pretty much birthed itself as a by-product of my life.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
I don't know about hardest, but the dedication to my grandmother was the most heartfelt, so you can say finding the courage for the dedication.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I want it to change their perspective of women and their behavior towards women.
How long did it take you to write this book?
I don't even remember.
What is your writing routine?
I wouldn't tell you that, come on.
How did you get your book published?
I self-published just over a week ago.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Give it your all. Be as unique as possible.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Explore and be active.
What does your family think of your writing?
I'm the next Shakespeare.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I come from love and support, mostly.
Did you like to read when you were a child?
Yup! A Series of Unfortunate Events were my favorite books to read.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I never realized it, I just always did as much as I could for as long as I can remember.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Maybe the freedom to explore ideas did but, outside of that, most of my experiences come from my teen-to-early-adult years.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
As of right now, I receive words of excitement, support, and encouragement.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
New formats.
Thanks for visiting today, Carlton. Best of luck with your future projects.

About the Author
Carlton Grant
Carlton X. Grant was born to Caribbean parents in Brooklyn, New York's Bedford Stuyvesant, better known as Stuyvesant Heights area nowadays. Carlton, an FIU attendee, a scholar by effort and self-motivated by nature, bypassed the offers of MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Oxford to bring you a voice all his own.


Quote of the Week by Oprah Winfrey

Quote of the Week
by Oprah Winfrey

“Reading  is a way for me  to expand my mind,  open my eyes,  and fill up my heart.”  ~ Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Friday, September 21, 2018

"The Last Weekend of the Summer" by Peter Murphy

The Last Weekend of the Summer
by Peter Murphy

The Last Weekend of the Summer by Peter Murphy

The Last Weekend of the Summer by Peter Murphy is currently on tour with Providence Book Promotions. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

They have been coming to their grandmother Gloria’s lake cottage since they were babies. Now Johnnie and Buddy have families of their own and C.C. has a life full of adult drama and adventure. And this trip – the only stated purpose of which is to bring the family together for the last weekend of the summer – seems full of portent. Gloria has been hinting that there’s more on the agenda than grilling and swimming, and when the three siblings learn that their estranged father will also be in attendance, it becomes clear that this weekend will have implications that last far beyond the final days of the season.
A touching, incisive view into the dynamics of a family on the verge of change and filled with characters both distinctive and utterly relatable, The Last Weekend of the Summer is a rich, lyrical reading experience that will resonate in your heart.

As the truck slithered to a halt on the gravel road, Susie and Joey took off. It was one of their cottage rituals, running to Gloria who stood waving from the veranda. For the last few years, Joey had let Susie win but had always made it look like he was running as fast as he could. Johnnie and Carol sat back and watched. They always gave the kids a few moments with Gloria before they joined them.
“So, what’s really going on?” Carol asked without looking over at him.
“What do you mean?”
“There’s a little dark cloud hovering over your head.”
“Damn. I was hoping you wouldn’t notice it.”
“Come on, out with it.”
“Dad’s coming too. He’s coming sometime Saturday morning.”
“Does your mother know?”
“I don’t think so. Gloria wanted to break the news to everyone at the same time.”
“Oh dear, so Buddy doesn’t know yet?”
“No, and there’s more.”
There always was with his family, but Carol didn’t say that. Instead, she just sat for a moment taking it all in. And when he was finished, she squeezed his hand and leaned across to kiss his cheek. “I’m so sorry to hear that. Are you going to be okay?”
“Don’t worry about me; I’ll be fine. And we’re all going to have a great time, no matter what.” He smiled and winked at her. “Ready?”
“Showtime,” she smiled back, and she got out and walked towards the veranda. She knew what he was doing; he was getting himself ready for another weekend of enabling his sisters and his mother. She wished he wouldn’t, but there was no point in saying that. Instead, she’d be as loving and supportive as he needed her to be. It was how they dealt with life—along with having a laugh at themselves. “And stop checking out my ass,” she called over her shoulder as she went.
“Better yours than someone else’s,” Gloria laughed as she slowly descended the stairs from the veranda and kissed Carol’s cheek. She still had the most remarkable hearing. “That was something my Harry always used to say.”
“Really, Gloria, I wouldn’t have thought stuff like that would have been a problem for you guys.”
“He was blind, Carol, but he was still a man.”
Carol pretended to look shocked, but Gloria carried on as if she didn’t notice. “But you have nothing to worry about. Johnnie’s still madly in love with you, isn’t he, dear?” Gloria had a twinkle in her eye.
“Of course he is. And I’m still crazy about him—just don’t tell him.”
“I hope so, dear, because I put you two in the east room. I know it’s your favorite.”
“Thanks,” Carol took the old, brittle woman into her arms. “And are you okay, Gloria?”
“Of course I am. Why would you ask such a thing?” But she stayed in Carol’s arms for a little while longer.
“What are you two plotting?” Johnnie asked as he struggled up with their bags. “And don’t worry about me—I’ll just lug everybody’s stuff by myself.”
“And, well, you should,” Gloria reached up and kissed him, and hugged him as tight as her frail old arms would allow. “Your poor wife and children are here for a rest, so don’t be selfish and go around spoiling everything.
“So,” Gloria asked after Carol had gone to settle the kids into the new rooms over the boathouse. “Have you talked with your father?” She waited at the bottom step for Johnnie to take her by the elbow. She could have made it on her own, but she knew he liked to behave like a gentleman.
“Yes, and I hope he knows what he’s doing. It might be asking a bit too much.”
“Not of you, dear, surely?”
“No, I’m okay with it all, and I really want this to work out—for everyone. I was a bit torn up when I first heard, but it’s settled in now and, well, you know . . .”
“Yes, Johnnie, I do.” She smiled up at him and reached up to stroke his cheek. It always reminded her of Harry’s—at least his good side. “Being family means having to go through things like this, and we will all get to play our parts. Hopefully C.C.’s new love interest will provide enough distraction for your mother.”
She paused when they got to the top step and looked up at him for a moment as if she was about to say something else but changed her mind.
“What is it, Gloria? What other secrets are you keeping from me?”
“Far too many for what little time we have left. Now let’s go inside. I have some nice cold beer in the fridge. You might need some fortification before your mother gets here.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Great story, love the ending, a surprise! Love that this book covers all age groups and their realistic daily problems.” ~ Jbarr5
“This is a well written story about a dysfunctional family with many secrets. […] There are many issues in this novel that a reading group could discuss and questions are included for that purpose. The story is plotted well and there is much for readers to think about at the end. Murphy's writing style is good.” ~ Joan N.
“Full of emotions, various personalities, it includes all age-groups making this a realistic family story. An ode to Summer, well-written read.” ~ SOMDReigel
“A story of hurt, anger, love and reconciliation among those we know best - Family. Well done!” ~ Laurie
“This wonderfully written book takes us on a journey of family drama, family love and family loss. Peter Murphys characters are well developed, diverse and engaging. The Last Weekend of the Summer is a great summer beach read.” ~ Donna M. Clerico

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
On this last weekend of summer, matriarch Gloria brings her whole family together, even a surprise guest. She says, “Perhaps it is a little selfish of me, but I wanted you all here with me this weekend. I wanted my entire family to be together once more, while there is still time.” Of course, they all think she must be dying, but the truth is even harder to take. It will be a difficult weekend because “when they were all together - it was like they stopped being who they really were and all became characters in some drawn-out soap opera.” Long-held resentments will surface, relationships will be tested, and old family secrets will be revealed.
The story is told in the third person point-of-view of every family member, bar the two youngest boys. It’s hard to keep up with whose head you’re in, and even the author must have had trouble keeping up because sometimes two points-of-view are included in the same section. The dialogue is often lacking in contractions, making it stilted and unnatural and pulling the reader out of the story. Nevertheless, the author explores a rich tapestry of relationships in this family where everyone initially appears unlikable but ends up revealing their redeeming features. This is just the kind of family drama I’ve been missing and craving.
The story is followed by “Reading Group Questions” and “A Conversation with the Author”.
Warnings: coarse language, drug use, sexual references, LGBTQ themes, suicide references.

Some of My Favorite Lines
“… when you sit back and take it all in, life is neutral. It’s up to us to look at it from whatever side we like.”
“Mary and Gloria were sitting at opposite ends of the table, as silent as bookends, each deep within their own thoughts.”
“You have the very rare gift of being able to compliment and insult at the same time.”
“You have always been a pain in the ass, and that alone makes you one of us.”
“… it is so easy to rationalize our own mistakes and just as easy to make too big a deal of the mistakes of others.”
“… that sounds far too much like self-pity. It may seem warm and comforting at first, but I have found that it is not unlike peeing in your pants. It is, ultimately, embarrassing.”
“If there is a lesson we can offer, then it should be that when you are in doubt, stop and think about how your mother or I might deal with it and do the opposite.”
“A mother’s role is really very simple. You just have to make everyone happy all the time.”
“… all families are just petri dishes for growing all kind of craziness. Yours is just that bit extra special crazy.”

About the Author
Peter Murphy
Peter Murphy was born in Killarney where he spent his first three years before his family had to move to Dublin. Growing up in the verdant braes of Templeogue, Peter was schooled by the De La Salle brothers in Churchtown where he played rugby for “The Wine and Gold.” He also played football (soccer) in secret! After that, he graduated and studied the Humanities in Grogan’s under the guidance of Scot’s corner and the bar staff, Paddy, Tommy, and Sean. Murphy financed his education by working summers on the building sites of London. He also tramped the roads of Europe playing music and living without a care in the world.
But his move to Canada changed all of that. He only came over for a while and ended up living there for more than thirty years. He took a day job and played music in the bars at night until the demands of family life intervened. Having raised his children and packed them off to university, Murphy answered the long-ignored internal voice and began to write. He has published five novels so far and has begun work on a new one. Nowadays, he lives in beautiful Lisbon with his wife Eduarda and their well-read dog, Baxter.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of five ebook copies of Lagan Love by Peter Murphy.

Lagan Love by Peter Murphy