Review: Till It Stops Beating (The Maddie Chronicles #4)

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review as part of a blog tour for the book. 

This is my second time reading Hannah R. Goodman. I had previously read the YA anthology book she edited and contributed to, Sucker Literary Magazine Vol. 1. I remember really enjoying it so I was excited to read this book. 

Going into this book I did not know that it was part of a series so in the beginning I was a tad bit confused because there were a lot of reference to things that happened in the past. However, I was still able to piece together what happened in the previous books, so you can read this book as a standalone. 

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This was a very touching and realistic story full of emotion and heart. It tackled a lot of heavy topics like cancer and anxiety in a respectful and caring way. There was a good balance between the happy moments and the more somber ones. 

As to what I didn’t like, the ending felt a but rushed to me. It ended pretty quickly. I would have liked for it to have been fleshed out a little more. 

There was also one line in the book that didn’t sit well with me. In describing the main character’s trip to NYC the book states, “We are right in front of one of those grocery stores that reek of Asian food and rotten produce” (83). I don’t quite know what this line was trying to get at, but to me it seemed like a slight jab at Asian grocery stores since they can sometimes be smelly. 

Overall, this was a wonderful and moving book. It had a few flaws, but was still an enjoyable read. 


 

Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Maddie Hickman’s senior year begins with the good (the reemergence of The One That Got Away), the bad (a cancer diagnosis, not hers, but it might as well be) and the WTF (an anxiety attack that renders her writhing on the floor like an upside down crab). 

Adding to her spiraling anxiety is Senior Project, in the form of I’ve Decided To Write A Book about The Other One That Got Away (And Crushed My Heart). Compounding it all is applying to college and keeping up with her friends. The ever mounting stress eventually rips her tight grip on all that she holds dear. 

Her break down leads to an unexpected road trip where she is forced to listen to her wildly beating heart. It is only in the back of a convertible with pop music blasting, that she discovers she must risk everything in order to really live.

Purchase Link:

Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/dp/1684330807/‬‬  

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1684330807/‬‬


 

Author Bio 

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Often referred to as “the teenage whisperer”, Hannah R. Goodman’s twenty-year career working with teenagers includes the titles teacher, tutor, coach, and, more recently, mental health counselor. Hannah has written essays about mental health for various online publications. Her work has appeared on MindBodyGreenOC87 Recovery Diaries,  Zencare.co, and The Mighty. Though she has previously earned the title author with her first three books, the last was released in 2009 and all were self-published. This time around, indie publisher Black Rose Writing released her novel Till It Stops Beating this summer.

Hannah’s  first YA novel, My Sister’s Wedding, won the first place award for The Writer’s Digest International Self-Publishing Contest, 2004, children’s book division. She published the follow-up, My Summer Vacation, in May 2006, which went on to win a bronze IPPY in 2007. The third Maddie book, Fear of Falling, was released in the fall of 2009 and was praised by teachers and readers for tackling subjects like homophobia and coming out. She’s published young adult short stories on Amazon’s Shorts, in an anthology entitled Bound Is The Bewitching Lilith, and in the journal Balancing The Tides. She also has written columns for The Jewish Voice & Herald. Recent, previous projects include Sucker Literary, which features emerging YA authors and All The Way YA, a group blog of writers telling the real deal about writing and publishing YA fiction.

Hannah is a member of  ARIA  (Association of Rhode Island Authors) as well as a graduate of Pine Manor College’s Solstice Program in Creative Writing where she earned an MFA in Writing For Young People. She resides in Bristol, RI with her husband, two daughters, and black and white cat named Zoe

Social Media Links 

You can find Hannah:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/969127.Hannah_R_Goodman

Twitter: @hannahrgoodman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tillitstopsbeatingnovel/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tillitstopsbeating/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-goodman-76b9596/

Amazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/Hannah-R.-Goodman/e/B002BLU56K

Website: https://www.hannahrgoodman.com


 

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Blog Tour: Chasing Petalouthes guest post

For today’s post I am partnering with Love Books Tours to bring you a guest post from the author of Chasing Petalouthes, Effie Kammenou. In her post she discusses how she finds inspiration for her books. Keep scrolling to read her post and to find out more about her book!


 

Guest Post Written by the Author

Inspiration

Inspiration can come from any number of sources – a life experience, a fleeting yet compelling observation, or perhaps an unforgettable dream. For me it’s been all of the above and then some. I believe every writer draws from personal experience and any creative person tends to possess keen observation skills.

My younger daughter is a graphic designer and art director. I can see her eyes light up when inspiration strikes. I might not understand what caught her attention or what was running through her mind, but when she’s done setting up her shot and I see the final product of what she created, then I understand.

The same is true for my eldest, a dance teacher and choreographer. She’ll hear a piece of music that speaks to her and it’s as though a light switch was turned on. I can almost see her eyes dancing as her mind begins to create.

The smallest seemingly insignificant moments can be the most inspirational of all. Each year my family and I attend the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival. It’s a crowded park at that time of the year. Actually, it’s always pretty crowded, but during the festival there are lines of people waiting to sample food & alcoholic beverages from kiosks that represent dozens of countries. I was sitting on a bench waiting for my family and I noticed a young couple sampling some of the offerings. It was apparent that the young man enjoyed what he’d tasted and he brought the wax paper clad pastry up to his girlfriend’s lips. He watched her eagerly, hoping she would enjoy it as much as he did and smiled when her reaction was the same as his. He then sweetly brushed off a flake of pastry from her bottom lip, allowing his finger to linger long enough to caress her mouth before lowering his head to gently kiss her. The whole exchange couldn’t have been more than fifteen seconds but it stayed with me. There was so much love in the young man’s gesture. I could see from that tiny slice of their life that he cared deeply for her and it moved me. I decided I would write a similar sweet moment into one of my stories. (Hint – It’s in Waiting For Aegina)

I began writing my first novel, Evanthia’s Gift, when my mother passed away. It had always been in the back of my mind to write, but I’d always dismissed the idea until this life-altering event and inspiration was born from grief. The story I had always played with in my mind grew from as simple love story to a family saga when I created a character that honored the essence of my mother’s heart and soul.

My mother like her mother before her never wanted to leave this earth, and they especially didn’t want to leave their family. My grandmother, who we called Yiayiá, would say in heavily accented English, ‘Don’t forget me,’ years before she had to worry about dying. My mother promised to always be with us and watch over us. And I believe she has done just that. I’ve had several dreams since I’ve lost her. Ones that contained an important message. I’ve used those dreams as inspiration although I changed the details and used them in a different context.

In 2004 I reluctantly attended my thirtieth high school reunion. The committee chairperson, an old friend I hadn’t seen since those school days, contacted me repeatedly until I finally agreed to attend. I ended up having a wonderful time and reconnected with many old friends. We became a close-knit group, and fourteen years later, we still get together. Because of this, the idea came to me to write a fictionalized story about a circle of friends who grew up together. I added these friends to Book One: Evanthia’s Gift as secondary characters, but in Book Two: Waiting For Aegina they are the focus of the story and each have their own subplot.

Although there may be bits and pieces of my friends in these women they are purely a figment of my imagination. I thought back to those days when we were young and idealistic and remembered what we all thought we would be doing with our lives years later. I expected to be a successful actor. There was a 1:1,000,000 chance of that! I was certain one of my friends would be a fashion designer and another a very important politician. Neither is the case in their real lives but my teenage ideals for them was inspiration enough for me to develop completely new characters with different histories, backgrounds and physical attributes from my friends.

Although none of the characters in Chasing Petalouthes are based on my daughters or any of the children in my family, it is their generation that inspired the storylines of Evvie and Stella. In truth, a very brave young woman shared a personal and painful part of her life with me and she inspired part of the plot. And of course, like I do in the rest of the saga, I delve into the past in a way where the current generation can learn valuable lessons from the generations before them.

I’ve already started to plot the next series in my mind. As a matter of fact, I witnessed something recently that inspired me enough to have my new love interests meet in a similar manner. But I’m not saying a word just yet!


Book Blurb

Chasing Petalouthes cover

Click the picture to purchase the book on Amazon

The Gift Saga concludes with the next generation coming into the forefront of the story during their tumultuous years between adolescence and adulthood.

Evvie has lived through more tragedy than a young girl should ever endure, having lost both her father and a most beloved grandmother at a young age. Her rebellious ways are her only defense to mask the ever-present pain in her heart. Closing herself off emotionally, Evvie vows to never let anyone into her heart. But will her determination to keep everyone out see her lose the only person who could heal her broken soul?

Over-achieving, focused, talented, determined to succeed. Those are the traits Stella envies in her siblings and cousins. Her insecurities and lack of confidence stunts her ability to realize her own worth. When an older, handsome young man claims her as his own, Stella believes she has finally found who she has been looking for—someone to love her enough to mold her into the best version of herself. But has she fallen in love too quickly for a man she barely knows anything about?

 Chasing Petalouthes (Chasing Butterflies) is the coming of age story of two flawed, young women who push their way out from the confines of the cocoons they’d built around themselves and discover how to soar.

 Can be read as a standalone. For the full emotional impact on the character’s live and histories, read Evanthia’s Gift & Waiting For Aegina.


About the Author

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Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart or change your career. She is proof of that. At one time, long ago, she’d thought that, by her age, she would have had an Oscar in her hand after a successful career as an actor. Instead, she worked in the optical field for 40 years and is the proud mother of two accomplished young women.

Her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.

Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category.  Waiting for Aegina is Book Two in The Gift Saga and Chasing Petalouthes is Kammenou’s latest release, completing the series.

Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her entertaining family and friends or traveling for ‘research.’

As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the books.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.


chasing-petalouthes

Guest post: Review of A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire #5)

Today I am so excited to share a review from guest blogger, Tanmay Jain, for the book, A Dance of Dragons by George R. R. Martin.

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About the Author

George Raymond Richard Martin, also known as GRRM, is an American novelist and short-story writer in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres, screenwriter, and television producer, known mainly for his work on A Song of Ice and Fire.

Blurb

*Spoilers for A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows*

As the last book focused on the happenings of the characters in south Westeros, ( and Arya), this book is a parallel in the time­line focusing on the other characters, in the north and Essos. Jon Snow , after Stannis’s attack on the wildlings is understanding how hard it can be to the Lord Commander. Dany struggles to keep her empire as foes surround her from all sides and even from inside of her own city, Meereen. Fleeing from Westeros, Tyrion Lannister arrives at Essos to find unlikely allies in unlikely places. Theon continues to struggle to survive as Ramsay Bolton’s Reek.

Review

This book took an interesting turn in the series as it focused the storyline outside Westeros. Focusing more on the bigger matters, this one featured Dany, Jon and Tyrion, the three main characters. All three of them went through very interesting character arcs in this one, a transformation that can’t be felt until you compare the characters from the start and the end.

In A Feast for Crows, Jaime’s arc was fixed on one line that Tyrion had told him earlier – she;s been fucking Lancel and Osmund Kettleback and Moon Boy, for all I know – this line that goes through Jaime’s mind a lot of times defines his inner self. What he really wants is Cersei and now he’s having doubts. The same trick was used in A Dance with Dragons. With Tyrion it was – Wherever Whores go – he was trying to find his meaning in the world. He was no longer a part of his House, a fled exile, with a price on his head. He needed a purpose. With Theon it was – My name is Reek. I must remember my name – After weeks of torture under

Ramsay, Theon had learned to forget his old, his real identity and was trying to bend to Ramsay’s will hoping for mercy. He too needed to know WHO HE WAS.

This book is quite more fast­paced than the others in the series and the story is a non­stop roller­coaster ride. New allies, new plots, new characters, everything that we knew cannot be trusted anymore as the author constantly pricks the reader with really sharp twists.

The best part of this book, according to me was the connection it enabled between the characters and the readers. As I mentioned earlier, using key lines , the author really takes us to see what’s under the skin of these characters and what drives them. The character arc of Dany was focused a lot on how much she loved her people, and how much she suffered to see them suffering. With her growing up and with such a delicate situation surrounding her, it was a really interesting take on how she handles so many problems and really gets in the Queen mode.

Same with Jon Snow. He is struggling as the men of the Night Watch refuse to let the wildlings peacefully integrate in their institution. He is trying to explain to everybody that the real danger is out there, his frustation of seeing that people are fixating on such trifles and the pressure of being the lord commander is quite sympathizable.

The writing style is not complex. A little slow, and detailed but simple overall. The length, I consider is an added bonus because a story like this, if rushed, would be utterly destroyed.

Ratings ­

Writing – 9/10

Cover – 8/10

Title – 9/10

Story – 10/10

Total – 9/10


Guest Blogger Bio and Links

Tanmay Jain is a blogger, book reviewer, writer and bibliophile from Jaipur, Rajasthan. He has been reading books since he was a child and hasn’t stopped since. He started his first blog in 2016 and since that, after many unsuccessful attempts at managing a successful blog, he landed on his current and most successful blog, Scion of Society. Tanmay dabbles mostly in fiction writing but sometimes wanders off to poetry, book reviewing and writing tips. He is an editor for his school magazine, X-rays. He’s a teenage writer, aspiring author, and a budding blogger.

You can connect with him through his social media handles mentioned below –

Twitter

Google+

Bookinton (Personal Blog)

Facebook

Blog Tour: Busted guest post

Today I am partnering with Love Books Group for a guest post from author, Michele I. Khoury. In her post, she talks about the story behind one of her characters and the research she did to bring that character to life. Keep scrolling to read her post and to find more information about her book!


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Guest post by the author

Busted: The Story Behind the Good Guy

While writing my debut novel, I did a ton of research, which also included interviewing people who had the same profession as the characters in Busted. The story is about three people who collide over cocaine and how their experiences intertwine.

One of the primary characters is a DEA Special Agent, named Bobby Garcia. While I created a storyline that included drugs and the drug world, I did what writers are not supposed to do: I wrote about topics that I did not know.

Through research and networking, I met a Lt. in Narcotics from the Anaheim Police Department (the same city where Disneyland is located.)

The lieutenant was wonderful. Not only did I interview him on numerous occasions, but I also emailed him at all hours the day and night, to which he responded quickly. He is an honorable individual; he is conscious and respectful of the law, and relentless in arresting drug dealers. Unlike another character in my novel, the lieutenant is committed to the war on drugs and believes that marijuana is a gateway drug.

Not having a legal background, I found myself fascinated by the intricacies of law enforcement. He educated me about the process of identifying suspects, tracking their behavior, finding proof, obtaining search warrants, and setting up stings. The dedication he exhibited became the basis for the DEA Special Agent in my story.

Bobby was a joy to create—a dedicated thirty-eight-year-old family man, who loves his job. His vulnerability comes from his daughter, a rebellious fourteen-year-old who accidentally OD’s on cocaine. Bobby didn’t need any more motivation to rid society of drugs, but when his daughter almost dies, he’s personally impacted and allows his emotions to cloud his judgment.

Dear Reader, What about you? Have you ever taken on a project where you had no clue as to what you were getting into? If so, what was it? What happened? How did you learn what you needed? Were you successful? Or not? What value did you gain?

Warmest Regards,

Michele I. Khoury

Please feel free to contact or follow me:

Mkhoury18@gmail.com

http://www.michelekhoury.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMicheleKhoury/

Twitter: Michele Khoury@MicheleIKhoury

Subscribe to my blogs: http://michelekhoury.com/blog/


Blurb 

Impacted by the recession, twenty-four-year-old artist Gina McKenna is down to her last few dollars and days away from living in her car when a successful businessman buys a painting and commissions another. As their relationship evolves, she’s seduced by his charm and mesmerized by his luxurious lifestyle until she discovers he’s a drug kingpin. As her world turns upside down, she struggles to survive vicious brutality. 

Miguel Lopez is a cocaine supplier with a weightlifter’s physique and ‘the rules do not apply to me’ attitude. Maniacal and ruthless, he has no qualms about killing anyone who interferes with his distribution network, including Gina. 

Dedicated to eradicating illegal drugs, DEA Special Agent Bobby Garcia spent months and hundreds of thousands of dollars working undercover to buy his way up a dealer chain to identify the moneyman. When his fourteen-year-old daughter overdoses on cocaine, he traces the blow to Lopez. As Bobby’s mission becomes personal, he makes emotional decisions, which negatively impact civilians and his job. Unable to let go, he risks his career to orchestrate the biggest drug sting in Southern California. What happens isn’t what he expected. 

When a deputy district attorney meets Gina at a party, he is smitten. As his attraction grows, so does Gina’s involvement with the DEA’s case, of which he is the designated prosecutor. Mindful of his professional ethics, he tries to stifle his feelings. 

Sex and violence permeate the twists and turns of this cautionary tale about choosing one’s friends well.


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About the Author

Writing is Michele I. Khoury’s third career. After graduating from the University of California at Riverside with a Masters degree in Economics, she worked at Xerox, where she set multiple sales records, and Apple Computer, where she received the Business Development Manager of the Year award. For twenty-one years, she was an international business consultant and taught technology companies around the world how to sell.

Her writing career began when she took the Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Novel Writing Classes offered through the University of California Irvine’s extension program. She was one of three out of the fourteen students her professor choose to mentor and attended weekly critique sessions for six years. BUSTED is her debut novel, and she is currently writing her second book, which is about domestic violence and abuse.

She lives in Orange County, California with her husband and rescued dogs, Bubbles and Thriller.

For more information, please visit http://www.michelekhoury.com.


Busted

 

Blog Tour: Waiting for Aegina guest post + excerpt

Today I am partnering with Love Books Group for a guest post from author, Effie Kammenou. In her post, she talks about the characters in her series. Keep scrolling to read her post, an excerpt, and to find out more information about her latest book!

Waiting for Aegina

Click the picture to purchase the book

Guest post written by the author 

My stories are character driven. I’ve given each character a history that molds their personality, preferences, fears and dreams. The Gift Saga is mainly told from the point of view from the women in this multigenerational story, yet the men that love them, raise them and support them are just as interesting and often as complex as the women they love.

Evanthia’s Gift opens with Anastacia’s story, but in essence it’s the beginning of Sophia’s storyline. Everything that happens to Anastacia and all the decisions she makes directly affect Sophia throughout her life. The first third of the book, Part I, is Anastacia’s story and the backstory for Part II, which focuses on Sophia as she blossoms from an impressionable teenager to an independent woman.

Throughout the chapters, the reader is introduced to Sophia’s closest friends, both as teenagers and adults. The friendships between these women are strong and unbreakable.

This bond between these five women is what’s explored in Waiting
For Aegina. Each one leads separate lives and have all followed their dreams, but when trouble steps into their paths, the friends stand by each other.

Sophia is dealing with the repercussions that plagued her from the first book. She seemingly got her happily ever after, but there was so much she had yet to come to terms with—the death of her mother, a surprise revelation over her paternity, and her children’s resentment of her new husband.

Amy has a secret that only Sophia was privy to. She gave a child up for adoption shortly after her graduation from college. Her husband and son had no knowledge of this and neither did her other friends. When the truth unexpectedly comes out, it affects her family, her relationship with her husband and threatens her position as a United States congresswoman.

Donna married her high school sweetheart. She was the cheerleader who married the star football player, her first boyfriend. But her seemingly perfect marriage frays thread by thread as her husband becomes a man she can no longer respect. When tragedy strikes, Donna must find the strength to go on.

Demi and Sophia have grown up as though they were siblings. Demi is bold where Sophia is cautious and, Demi, outspoken in contrast to Sophia’s more diplomatic manner. But these two opposite personalities bring out the best in each other. Demi begrudgingly endures her intrusive mother-in-law, while also been letting her imagination run wild where her normally loving husband is concerned. Her mouth and insecurities get the best of her, landing her in a bit of marital disharmony.

Mindy has it all, or so it would seem. She has devoted her life to her craft, becoming a respected and well-known fashion designer. But to get there, sacrifices were made and she let the love of her life slip through her fingers. Her fear of being alone places her in the hands of the wrong man, but her friends come to her aid.

Each of these five women are very different with distinctly unique personalities, but the bond they had formed from childhood is cemented for life and they are loyal to the core, seeing each other through good times and bad.


Excerpt

Chapter 1

Sophia

October 2004

Sophia was seated at the edge of a worn leather chair with her eyes fixed on Dean, tears streaming down her cheeks. Ignoring the sting from the cuts and bruises on her forehead and nose, the soreness on the left side of her body, and the sharp pains coming from her casted arm, she gently gripped her husband’s hand, hoping her touch would will him into consciousness.

Not twenty-four hours ago, they were having the time of their lives—reconnecting with old friends, dancing, and maybe drinking a little too much. Which is why Sophia took the keys from Dean and insisted she drive home.

Their joyful night came to a crashing end when a bright light reflecting from her side view mirror blinded Sophia. It was as though everything after that happened in slow motion—the sound of crunching metal and screeching tires, a surreal feeling that the car may have flipped over and over, and the shattering of breaking glass when a car struck theirs, slamming into the passenger door where Dean was seated.

When their vehicle came to a sudden halt, Sophia found that the car had not turned over as she thought, yet somewhere in her confused and disoriented mind, it had registered that they must have spun around.

Clouds of white surrounded Sophia and she screamed out to Dean, afraid he was unconscious or severely injured from the impact the car had taken.

Her door flung open. “Sophia, I have to get you out of the car. Help is on its way.”

“Dino! Help Dino!” Sophia desperately pleaded, not sure to whom she was speaking. It was so dark and she was blinded by fear.

Slapping away the airbags obstructing her view, she called out to her husband. “Dino! Talk to me. Say something.”

Struggling to open his eyes, Dean groaned, but his lids remained closed.

Michael, who had been following in the car behind, could see that metal from the car had compressed around the lower half of Dean’s body and, without help, he would not be able to pull him from the wreckage.

Sophia reached for Dean, but Michael stopped her.

“It’s better not to touch him until the EMTs get here.”

Panic-stricken after watching the erratic driver crash into her brother’s door, Demi helped Sophia out of the car and clung to her.

Within minutes, the dark road was polluted with flashing lights and the sound of blaring sirens. Rescuers came swiftly, assessing the situation quickly deciding to rely on the ‘Jaws of Life’ to cut Dean out of the car. Another medic came to Sophia’s aid, placing her arm in a splint and tending to the open gashes on her face and arm.

“Forget about me! Take care of my husband,” she demanded, her voice strained from fear.

“Your husband is in good hands.” The female medic looked up after she finished wrapping Sophia’s arm. “They’re about to load him into the ambulance now, ma’am.”

“Take me to him.”

“Of course.”

The uniformed woman guided Sophia to where Dean was strapped on a stretcher and about to be lifted into the back end of an ambulance. Too many people surrounded him, making it impossible for Sophia to get close.

Movement, noise, lights, and voices shouting commands—it was all happening at lightening speed, yet at the same time the moment seemed to drag on forever. Sophia became agitated. There was too much fasaria around her. Her yiayiá would say that when there was too much noise and commotion. It was the first word that came to mind as witnesses dramatically recounted the accident, mangled cars were pulled onto flatbeds, and police officers gave the drunk driver, who had sped across three lanes before hitting them, a breathalyzer test. The son of a bitch didn’t look as though he had a scratch on him, and Sophia’s Dino was—she didn’t want to think about what his condition was. She just needed to get to him, but no one would let her.

“Ma’am, we have another ambulance for you if you’ll come with me.”

Sophia pushed away from the EMT. “I don’t need one. I want to go with my husband.”

“That’s not possible, ma’am.”

“You’re hurt,” Demi said. “You need to go with them.”

“I want to stay with you. Michael, drive me to the hospital. I want to be there when Dino arrives.”

“We’ll follow along behind the ambulance you’re in,” Michael said. “You’re in shock, Sophia, and you need to be examined. Let’s be on the safe side.”

*****

Leaning over the hospital bed, Sophia prayed. “Please, God, don’t take him from me now,” Sophia begged in an inaudible whisper. “Dino, oh, my Dino.” She bent over him and caressed his cheek. “Don’t leave me. Not after all we’ve been through. Squeeze my hand. Move your eyes. Give me a sign that you’re still with me. Anything.”

Comforting arms wrapped around Sophia. “Sweetie, you need to take a break. Get some sleep. I’ll stay with my brother.”

She turned to look at Demi and, collapsing into sobs, she shook her head. “No. What if he wakes up and I’m not here?” Sophia’s face grew pale and her lower lip quivered. “Or what if—”

“Don’t say it,” Demi ordered. “Don’t even think it.” Demi wrapped her arms around Sophia. “The doctor said he’ll be unconscious for a while. If anything changes, I’ll call you.”

Sophia pulled away and shook her head adamantly. “I can’t.”

“If you don’t, I’ll get your doctor in here to order you to go home and rest. Your body took quite a beating also. You can’t help Dean if you don’t take care of yourself.” Turning Sophia by the shoulders to face the entrance to the room, Demi said, “Look. Everyone is here. Any one of them will be happy to take you home. I’ll stay with my brother until you get back.”

Sophia waved weakly, her heart melting at the sight of them. In the doorway stood Amy, Mindy, and Donna. They were there when she needed them—always at her side without question—her oldest and dearest friends. The Honey Hill Girls were loyal to the core.


Blurb 

Book Two in The Gift Saga: The continuation of Evanthia’s Gift…

In 1961, five little girls moved into a suburban neighborhood and became inseparable, lifelong friends. They called themselves the ‘Honey Hill Girls,’ named after the street on which they lived. As teenagers they shared one another’s ambitions and dreams, secrets and heartaches. Now, more than thirty years later, they remain devoted and loyal, supporting each other through triumphs and sorrows.

Evanthia’s Gift follows the life of Sophia Giannakos. In Waiting for Aegina the saga continues from the perspectives of Sophia and her friends as the story drifts back and forth in time, filling in the gaps as the women grow to adulthood.

Naive teenage ideals are later challenged by harsh realities, as each of their lives takes unexpected turns. Now nearing their fiftieth year, Sophia, Demi, Amy, Mindy and Donna stand together through life-altering obstacles while they try to regain the lighthearted optimism of their youth.

Can be read as a standalone. For the full emotional impact on the character’s live and histories, read Evanthia’s Gift.

Buy link: Click here

Author Bio

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Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart or change your career. She is proof of that. At one time, long ago, she’d thought that, by her age, she would have had an Oscar in her hand after a successful career as an actor. Instead, she worked in the optical field for 40 years and is the proud mother of two accomplished young women.

Her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.

Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category.  Waiting for Aegina is Book Two in The Gift Saga and Chasing Petalouthes is Kammenou’s latest release, completing the series.

Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her entertaining family and friends or traveling for ‘research.’

As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the books.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.


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Blog Tour: Arcacia excerpt

Today I am partnering with Digital Reads Blog Tours for today’s post featuring an excerpt from Acacia: The Witch, The Warlock, and The Children of the Sorceress Queen. Scroll down to read the excerpt and to see links to buy the book.

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Arcacia Book Blurb

When a beautiful sorceress-queen, Selina, spurns Setanor, a powerful, jealous northern warlock, an invasion of Western Arcacia begins.  To save her newborn triplets from death, they are cast down a magical river to the New World, a place called, ‘London, England.’

Thirteen years later in a cold, Victorian London attic…  The future of Sophie, an impoverished orphan looks bleak but everything changes, to her astonishment after a young witch arrives through her bedroom window with an incredible message and a warning. So begins her life in a beautiful, enchanted ancient world…

How do Sophie and her four friends summon the tremendous courage to rescue her long lost family while restoring Arcacia from dark, ruling forces? Mystical beasts, sceptres, powerful witches and daemon-trolls are just some of their challenges. Meanwhile, the dreaded terrifying warlock, Setanor and his witch-consort Lilith have sent a secret enemy to plan their downfall…

Book Excerpt

Prologue

The prologue to, ‘Arcacia,’ outlines the events leading up to the Great thirteen year war in Arcacia, a magical realm of the Old World.  To avert the threat of invasion from the northern territories, Selina’s  father, a King of the Argenon family clan had promised his beautiful daughter, Selina’s hand in marriage to Setanor, a powerful warlock from the north.  The aggressive sorcerer ruling family houses of the North had always openly threatened to invade rich, flourishing lands of western Arcacia. So far the Argenons and their people had managed to keep them at bay but this was getting harder.

Selina, a strong, beautiful well-educated Arcacian lady is adamant she’d rather stand up to Setanor than subject the people she loves to a life-time of tyranny. After her father suddenly passes away Selina breaks his oath; gives up her magic powers, and chooses to marry an Arcacian commander.  Harris originated from a strange world called England in the New World, he is unlike other Arcacians; Harris is human.  Selina forfeits her magical powers by marrying an outsider, as is dictated by law. They have three beautiful babies, triplets a boy and two girls. But Setanor who wanted to inherit Western Arcacia and who genuinely fell in love with Selina from afar, is furious, perceiving her derisory actions to be an act of scorn and disrespect.

He declares war on Arcacia, and one fateful night he appears with his guards to Selina’s home, captures Selina, and banishes Harris to the underworld.  Before being imprisoned and spellbound in a tower, ‘Until she comes to her senses and agrees to accept Setanor,’ Selina pleads with Set’s commander, Garwain, also her paternal uncle to spare her babies.  He complies, placing them in an enclosed basket which he casts down a magical river that forks to the New world to,’ London, England,’  the land of their father, not knowing if they will live or die.  

The children survive but are separated. A mysterious woman who finds the babies floating along the river, takes one of them, a girl, to raise herself.  A wolf suckles the boy who is discovered in the forest then raised by an elf-Queen and her people. Meanwhile the third child a girl, Sophie drifts on to England.


Book Links

Facebook

T.A. Barua Children’s book author page

Amazon

Click To Buy Arcacia ebook Kindle Version From Amazon Now.

Click To Buy Arcacia paperback from Amazon now.

Twitter

T.A. Barua on Twitter  (Twitter Handle: @t_barua)

Pinterest

Author T.A Barua on Pinterest


 

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Blog Tour: Letting Go of Gravity blitz- author guest post + giveaway

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Today I am partnering with Xpresso Book Tours for a blitz post for the book, Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder. Continue scrolling to read the synopsis of the book, author bio, and a guest post from the author. There is also a giveaway which I have a link to at the very end of this post.


 

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Book & Author Details:
Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder
Published by: Simon Pulse
Publication date: July 17th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Synopsis:

 

“The anticipation and slow burn of Parker and Finn’s relationship is electric…[an] absorbing novel that will appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell.” —Booklist

Parker struggles to reconnect with her twin brother, Charlie—who’s recovering from cancer—as she tries to deal with her anxiety about the future in this powerful new novel.

Twins Parker and Charlie are polar opposites.
Where Charlie is fearless, Parker is careful.
Charlie is confident while Parker aims to please.
Charlie is outgoing and outspoken; Parker is introverted and reserved.
And of course, there’s the one other major difference: Charlie got cancer. Parker didn’t.

But now that Charlie is officially in remission, life couldn’t be going better for Parker. She’s landed a prestigious summer internship at the hospital and is headed to Harvard in the fall to study pediatric oncology—which is why the anxiety she’s felt since her Harvard acceptance is so unsettling. And it doesn’t help that her relationship with Charlie has been on the rocks since his diagnosis.

Enter Finn, a boy who’s been leaving strange graffiti messages all over town. Parker can’t stop thinking about those messages, or about Finn, who makes her feel free for the first time: free to doubt, free to make mistakes, and free to confront the truth that Parker has been hiding from for a long time.

That she keeps trying to save Charlie, when the person who really needs saving is herself.

AUTHOR BIO:
A former bookseller and teacher, Meg Leder currently works as a book editor in New York City. Her role models are Harriet the Spy and Anne Shirley. She is the coauthor of The Happy Book, and spends her free time reading, looking for street art, and people watching. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Author Links:

 


Guest post from the author

In my new book Letting Go of Gravity, my main character Parker struggles with anxiety, even though she doesn’t quite know what’s going on until the end of the book. As someone who also has a hard time getting out of her own head, like Parker, I’ve discovered a few ways to help manage my busy mind. Here are some of the tricks Parker and I have used to calm ourselves:

 

  • Immerse yourself in the words of others. For Parker, it’s listening to Taylor Swift. For me, it’s finding a book that I can lose myself in. Sometimes, the mere act of letting yourself spend time with other voices is enough to give your worried mind a break.

 

  • Get busy. In my book, Parker starts helping out at a local ceramics shop, working with a group of old women while discovering the joy of making things with her own two hands. For me, it’s writing and being a reading buddy at a local elementary school. Creating and volunteering are both great ways of slowing the worry train, letting your mind focus on other avenues.

 

  • Be kind to yourself. It’s very easy to be mad at yourself when you’re anxious. You know that you’re not thinking rationally, but that doesn’t stop the anxious thoughts. But being mad at yourself doesn’t help you feel better—in fact, it makes Parker (and me) feel worse. Instead of being hard on yourself, be kind. You can’t always stop the thoughts, but you can at recognize that anxiety is hard and you’re doing the best you can.

 

  • Talk to your friends and family. Throughout the book, Parker’s new friends Ruby and Finn encourage her to talk about her feelings, and it’s only when she starts to tell people that she’s worried and scared that things start to get better. I’ve found that being open about my worried thoughts with people I trust—my family, my best friends, my therapist—is often the first step toward owning and overcoming my anxiety.

 

  • Know that it’s okay to seek help. It takes Parker a long time (a whole book!) to recognize she needs help in managing her worry. It took me twenty-plus years. More than anything, I hope that anyone who sees a little or a lot of themselves in Parker knows it’s okay to ask for help, whether it’s from a teacher, trusted adult, therapist, or good friend. Anxiety can be a hard road, but having someone on your side can make the journey a lot easier.

 

I hope you enjoy Letting Go of Gravity, and if you’re anxious too, please know you’re not alone—Parker and I are both with you.


 

There is a giveaway for this book and if you would like to enter it, then click here!

 

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