Thursday, August 30, 2018

#BookBlitz & #Giveaway - Twelve Months of Awkward Moments by Lisa Acerbo

Twelve Months of Awkward Moments
Lisa Acerbo
Publication date: August 30th 2018
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
Dani can’t wait for senior year at college. A straight-A scholar whose anxiety is a daily struggle, being awkward, introverted, and studious has become a way of life. She vows this year will be different. It’s time to move beyond her comfort zone, but that’s not easy.
Dani’s wild roommate and handsome best friend hate each other; her crazy family won’t leave her alone; and a new job forces her to be social. Unfortunately, when college romance finally calls, Dani is unable to answer thanks to a stalker who has her all tied up.
Can she stay alive long enough to find love and graduate?
Shaded under the dim porch light, Shami sits outside in a black jacket at a picnic bench near his apartment. He’s surrounded by a few friends but stands out as he is a good head taller than those around him. I’m confident as I saunter toward him in leather pants and strappy wedge sandals that highlight my long legs. My jacket is unzipped, exposing my lace-trimmed tank top. A bathroom run before leaving the bar showed my long hair remained under control, no frizz.
“How was the bar?” he asks.
“Good, you should have joined me there.” I run a hand through my hair for show.
“No car.” He smiles sweetly.
“So sad.” I grin. The two cans of hard cider leave me less than drunk but give me a bit of an edge. I feel good, which usually leads to trouble, and consider switching to beer. I hate the taste, so I’ll drink less and remain more in control. Small talk swims like a school of minnows as we catch up.
I pose the question I really want the answer to, and I realize why I need the hard cider. “What happened after our date?” I really mean, “Why didn’t you text me?” He squirms over, and his movement reminds me of a caterpillar. I work hard to stifle my giggle.
His hand finds my leg. “I had to go to Israel and was traveling.”
“Really? You couldn’t text from there? Or once you got back?”
“I guess I should have. Sorry.”
Silence invades for long seconds. I’m out of conversation topics and sobering up. I close my eyes as the brisk night air pushes against my cheeks. I hear the bench squeak as we adjust ourselves on the uncomfortable wood seats. I taste the awkwardness of the moment in my mouth. Finally, we throw out questions to each other to cover the disconnect.
Shami stands and stretches. “You have a car, right?”
“Yes.” I’m reluctant to say more, realizing where this is heading.
“Let’s go for a ride.” His white teeth shine in the darkness.
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea. I’ve had a couple drinks.”
“I haven’t. I’ll drive. Plus, it’s super close.” He holds out his hand. I hesitate, but then dig through my purse and hand him the keys, already understanding I’ll hate myself in the morning for doing this. We take off. I’m relieved Shami is a capable driver, but I smell his excessive cologne. To my overstimulated senses, it reeks. The fact he is in control of my car makes me feel like a cornered animal, yet I did this.
I’m confused when we enter the dark parking lot at McDonalds. Shami cruises into a spot in the far corner away from the entrance. An awkward silence ensues as he remains in his seat. With the heat blasting, the interior of my tiny Toyota Matrix warms quickly, and my leather pants stick to my skin. Shami takes his jacket off, revealing a gray T-shirt underneath. His hand slithers to my thigh, and I ask myself where the polite, sweet college student who held the door for me at the Hookah lounge has gone and who has replaced him.
“What are you doing?” I ask as I remove his hand from my leg, placing it none-too-gently on his side of the car.
“That’s why we’re on this date, right? You want to hook up, right?” He touches various parts of his own body.
“I see the way you’ve been appraising the Shami. You want this.” The muscles under his T-shirt flex.
Now I’m repulsed. His third-person reference to himself sounds stupid, conceited, and immature. “What I want is to get to know you.” I eye the McDonald’s sign and wonder if “The Shami” takes all his super-fun dates here.
“You got me. I’m the best thing at the Connecticut Central State College.” He leans over and tries to kiss me. I give him my cheek and then jerk back.
“I’m beginning to doubt that.”
“You’re not giving away any sugar?”
I feel my eyes bug out, wide open. “Here in the parking lot? Are you kidding me? Who does that?”
His cocky expression sours. Clearly, he knows I’ve called him a male slut because he seems to like lurking in dark corners of fast food joints. “You’re turning out to be a drag. Man, I’m hungry.” He focuses on the building. Shami opens his car door, and the scent of fries wafts through the air. Without a word, he leaves me in the passenger seat. I wait, unsure of what to do. I want to leave. Unfortunately, he took my keys with him. The jerk. The hopeful part of me perks up. Maybe this date will be salvageable. He probably darted inside to get us milkshakes.
I’m almost correct. Shami arrives with a milkshake, fries, and quarter pounder for himself. I watch as he devours them. My stomach growls.
“That put me in a good mood,” he says as he finishes his food. His snake-like hand embraces my arm, but I am certain he was aiming for another part of my anatomy. He squirms closer. I scoot away, my butt colliding with the door. He doesn’t notice. I attempt to avoid him as he angles in for a beef and onion-flavored kiss. It’s sloppy at best. I shove him away.
My stomach growls again. “We could go out for drinks and dinner?”
“I just ate.”
I smell the pickles and special sauce as he talks, his lips transforming into a dour frown. “Listen, if this isn’t happening tonight, I think I’m going to hang with the boys.”
“I think that’s an excellent idea.”
We drive home in silence. In the parking lot, he hands me my keys and heads off without a backward glance. I sit in the car, stunned, and realize I get to look forward to an entire year of running into him in the complex and on campus. My life is just one happy merry-go-round of fun. As I make my way back to my apartment, I felt a cool breeze on my thigh. I gaze down to witness the long split in my leather pants. All I want now is to inhale some left-over veggie Pad Thai, curl up under my comforter, and cry. The crazy part? This isn’t the worst date I’ve been on.

Author Bio:
Lisa Acerbo is a high school teacher and adjunct faculty at the University of Phoenix. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, daughters, two dogs, and horse. When not writing, she mountain bikes, hikes, and tries to pursue some type of further education.


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Spotlight Post - The Knight's Secret (The Mage Conspiracy, Book 1) by Jeffrey Bardwell

TITLE: The Knight's Secret
SERIES: The Mage Conspiracy, Book 1
AUTHOR:  Jeffrey Bardwell
GENRE: fantasy / adventure / romance
FORMATS: epub, mobi
PUBLISHER: Twigboat Press


A terrible secret. A vengeful empress. An unstable empire.

Sir Corbin, retired Hero of Jerkum Pass, dies on the eve of an urgent mission. His granddaughter Kelsa dons the old man's armor and his wrinkles and sets out to complete his last quest. She ventures to the capital of the Iron Empire. The city is in an uproar. The emperor has been slain by rogue mages. The new empress is livid. Now, every mage is suspect, including Kelsa's mother.

Hidden behind a magic ring, Kelsa infiltrates her grandfather's old regiment. As the mission leads her down a path of dark suspicions and lustful adventures, Kelsa struggles to live up to her grandfather's legacy. Yet the more she examines it, the more holes she discovers, until Sir Corbin's secret past threatens to expose her.

Unravel The Knight’s Secret, the first fantasy adventure of The Mage Conspiracy series. Discover a world of romantic entanglements and political intrigue where lies cut deeper than any sword.

Jeffrey Bardwell writes epic fantasy with elements of darkness, steampunk, and romance set in the Metal vs. Magic Universe. His character-driven books are guaranteed to include gritty realism, political intrigue, lurid entanglements, dry wit, and dragons in differing proportions. He devours fantasy and science fiction novels and is most comfortable basking near a warm wood stove. When not writing, Jeffrey enjoys cooking, gardening, and shooing baby dragons from the compost bin.

The author lives on a farm and in a prior life worked as a community ecologist. He is overfond of puns and alliterations. He is also an unabashed history and mythology enthusiast and would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Book Review - The Soul Mate (A Worlds Apart Series Prequel) by Evelyn Lederman

Title:  The Soul Mate (A Worlds Apart Series Prequel)
Author:  Evelyn Lederman
Genre:  Paranormal Romance
Release Date:  August 15, 2018

About the Book:

His first touch electrified her!

Leenea Rickard never made a decision without fear her mind-control telepathic father would apply his influence. Even the man she ultimately married would not be her choice. Her fate had not mattered until her eyes connected with a stranger at an anti-government rally.

Zane Childers realized what Leenea was to him the moment he touched her. They must hide the true nature of their relationship or become targets of a corrupt government. Their future is jeopardized when a boy’s life is threatened and they decide to save the child.

Enjoy this prequel to the Worlds Apart series where Zane and Leenea must discover what being soul mates involves.

Buy Links: Amazon 
Currently Free on Kindle Unlimited
My Review:

I have read and reviewed the first two books in the Worlds Apart series, so when I saw this prequel I was rather excited to read a bit of background. Although it is not vital that you read this prequel, it does act as a bit of a teaser to the series.

The Soul Mate is a short little novella of only about 87 pages, but it was great learning more about Zane and Leenea and the political arena which acts as a basis for this series of fascinating worlds.  Evelyn Lederman has created not just one world, but many worlds of enchanting and sometimes horrifying scenarios. If you're a fan of science fiction and paranormal romance, I definitely recommend this series.

As you read this prequel, if there are things you don't quite get, you will understand more when you read then the next books in this series.

My Rating:

About the Author:

I clearly remember a conversation I had with my sister and a friend about infinite parallel universes. We were outside Sedona, Arizona. All of a sudden 5 young women started talking in my mind. That was the start of 'The World's Apart' series. 'The Chameleon Soul Mate' was published in August 2014, followed by 'The Crystal Telepath' in December 2014. The floodgates have opened and I have more books in the Worlds Apart series as well as other series coming. I’m loving the ride!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Book Review - The Beast Underneath (The Fairytale Chronicles, Book 1) by Julie Morgan

Title:  The Beast Underneath (The Fairytale Chronicles, Book 1)
Author:  Julie Morgan
Genre:  Thriller, Fairytales, Short Read
Publisher:  Self Published
Release Date:  August 22, 2018

About the Book:

An impossible spell. An unwanted lover. A dark tale in the making. Nightmares can frighten even the bravest of men, but when dreams become reality, Bella will not know whether she is asleep… or awake. When a mysterious man ventures to Paris, havoc will shake Bella to her core. All malicious activities point to her, but she has no memory of it. Her only ally is her husband, Adrian. As the spell is moments from fruition, Adrian offers to take her place. Meddling with magic, after all, always comes with a price.

Buy Links: Amazon 
Currently available free on Kindle Unlimited 

My Review:

This is a twisted fairy tale like no other Beauty and the Beast you could have possibly read.  It's a thriller, suspenseful, and can be read in a little over an hour.

Gaspard (or is it Gaston?) desperately wants Belle, er.. I mean Bella.  He will do anything or pay any price to have her.  But the price is high when it comes to this kind of magic.

Julie Morgan has created an interesting twist to a tale as old as time.  Quite a change from what I am used to reading from this author, but she handled it quite well.

My Rating:

About the Author:

Originally from Burleson, Texas Julie always had a love of books, especially paranormal stories. Julie finally took the leap to begin writing with encouragement from her family. 

Having worked in IT her entire career, Julie now spends her free time writing. Living in Central Florida with her husband and daughter, her favorite pastime is reading children's stories to her daughter, especially those around animals.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Ramblings and Recipes, Part 2 - Memories of Grandparents

              "On the seventh day God rested. His grandchildren must have been out of town."   ~ Gene Perret

Sundays always meant going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  We were extremely well behaved there.  The reason?  Any child who misbehaved was given the job of cleaning out grandpa’s spittoon.  Gross.  Grandpa chewed tobacco and there is nothing I can think of that smells worse than a dirty spittoon. 
Grandpa wasn’t the only relative with that disgusting habit of chewing tobacco. 
I had a great-aunt who lived to be 109.  My only memory of her was seeing her sitting in her rocker on the wooden front porch of her little house with a jug of moonshine on the floor next to her on one side and a spittoon on the other.  She would rock forward and catch the hook of that jug with her finger, heave it up to her mouth, take a swig on the rock back and set the jug back down as she rocked forward again.  One easy movement.  A couple more rocks and she would lean forward and spit into that spittoon.  Then it started all over again.  Another swig of moonshine, another chaw of tobacco and another spit into that spittoon.  She was a crotchety old woman and it amazed me that she lived to such a ripe old age.  My dad used to say it was because Heaven didn’t want her and Hell was afraid she’d take over.

My grandma on my father’s side of the family passed away when he was a young child, so I never had the chance to meet her.  She was from Sweden and brought with her my Swedish heritage and my love of Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian foods.  One of those foods, quite common in the Upper Michigan peninsula where my father was raised, is Pasties.  These are little meat and vegetable pies that we served with ketchup.



·       Pie dough, enough to make six 8” rounds.
·       8 oz. ground beef or venison
·       4 oz. rutabaga, diced
·       1 medium carrot, diced
·       1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
·       1 small russet potato, peeled and diced
·       ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
·       Salt and Pepper to taste
·       1 egg, whisked
·       Ketchup, for serving


1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.    Mix together the beef, rutabaga, carrots, onions, potatoes and parsley.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Set aside until ready to form pies.
3.    Cut the pie dough into six even pieces and form into balls.  Flour a work surface and roll out each ball of dough into an 8” circle.
4.    Evenly divide the filling onto one half of each dough circle and fold the dough over in half to cover the mixture.  Crimp the edges with a fork and slice three small slits on top of each pocket to allow steam to escape.
5.    Brush the pasties with egg and bake on the prepared baking sheet until the crust is golden brown and flaky, about 1 ¼ hours.  Serve with ketchup.

After my grandmother died, my grandpa remarried an Italian woman.  She’s the grandma I grew up knowing.  Dinner at her house on Sunday’s was always an Italian treat.  Her pasta and sauces were always homemade and simmered to perfection.  Although I never got her actual recipe, my sister and I developed something that tasted almost as good.  For convenience, we substituted canned tomato sauce for the fresh tomatoes my grandma used.

·       1 lb. mild Italian sausage
·       1 lb. hot Italian sausage
·       1 large onion, chopped
·       2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
·       ½ pound fresh mushrooms
·       2 29-oz. cans Hunts Tomato Sauce
·       1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
·       ¼ cup red wine (more if drinking while cooking)
·       2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
·       ¼ teaspoon salt
·       2 medium bay leaves
·       Dash of pepper


1.      Wash, slice and sauté mushrooms.  Set aside.
2.      Brown meat with onion and garlic until crumbly; drain off grease.
3.      In a large pot, combine tomato sauce, wine and all seasonings.
4.      Add meat mixture and mushrooms to sauce.
5.      Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer two hours, stirring occasionally.
6.      Serve over pasta with freshly ground parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

  Note:  PLEASE do not use the parmesan cheese that comes in a can.  Trust me on this.    Fresh parmesan is so much better!

Here is another recipe that we tried to formulate from our taste bud memories.  It’s pretty close to the real thing in taste.


·       1 lb. lean ground beef
·       ½ cup chopped onions
·       1 cup sliced carrots
·       ½ cup chopped celery
·       2 garlic cloves, minced
·       ½ teaspoon salt
·       ¼ cup chili sauce
·       6 cups water
·       1 (19 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
·       1 (15 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
·       1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, undrained
·       1 (14 oz.) can ready-to-serve beef broth
·       1 cup uncooked large macaroni rings


1.      Brown ground beef in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until thoroughly cooked, stirring   frequently.  Drain.
2.      Reduce heat to medium.  Add carrots, onion, celery, garlic and salt.  Mix well.  Cook 5-8   minutes, or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.
3.      Add all remaining ingredients except macaroni; mix well.  Bring to a boil.
4.      Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes to blend flavors.
5.      Add uncooked macaroni; cook 8-10 minutes or until macaroni is of desired tenderness, stirring occasionally.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Title:  Lion on Fire
Author:  Ted Galdi
Genre:  Mystery, Thriller, Suspense and Crime
Release Date:  December 12, 2017

About the Book:
"Sometimes you have to burn your world down before you can live in it"

Brian, a clean-cut, recent college grad, also works for the mob. He takes a side job in their underground New York City casino to make extra cash to help his brother out of a jam. Nothing goes as planned, and soon Brian is forced to team up with a charismatic co-worker to rob the Russian gangsters who run the casino.

Do you like impossible-to-pull-off heists?  Do you like characters you'll never forget?  Do you like endings that make you gasp?

Then you'll love Lion on Fire, the third novel by Ted Galdi, an Amazon #1 bestselling author who's won Reader Views and Readers' Favorite awards, and been featured by FOX, ABC, and iHeartRadio.

Get your copy of this hit book today and plunge inside New York's underworld with two unlikely criminals who'll have you cheering for the robbers instead of the cops.

More on Lion on Fire

Main character Brian is shocked to learn that his younger brother not only has been dealing cocaine, but foolishly lost a whole package of it. Now he owes his boss $30,000. If Brian's brother doesn't come up with the money in a few weeks, he's dead.

Brian decides to help. However, he realizes scrapping together that sort of cash in such a short timeframe is nearly impossible legally. So he approaches Dusty, another driver at the limousine company where he works, and asks him about the whispers of lucrative, yet illegal, side jobs he's heard among the staff.

After proving himself trustworthy with an initiation test, Brian is invited to participate in an underground driving network that shuttles wealthy individuals to extravagant, though illicit, gambling events set up in multi-million-dollar Manhattan penthouses.

At first things go smoothly, and Brian pockets a lot of much-needed extra income. However, they turn jarring once he finds out a high-profile Russian gangster is behind the gambling events, and becomes mixed up with him not only professionally, but personally.

With tensions rising, and the fate of Brian's relationships with his parents and girlfriend now entangled with the underground casino, not to mention the life of his brother, he winds up in a position where pulling off a mafia robbery may be his only chance to get himself and his loved ones out of this mess alive and intact.

Lion on Fire is a fun, fast-paced, action-packed gambling thriller, and also an emotionally charged buddy story.

The Amazon #1 bestseller pairs do-gooder Brian with the charmingly wild and alluringly mysterious Dusty, who not only guides Brian through the dangerous world of the mafia casino, but ushers him toward a new and profound view of the world as a whole.

The book is perfect for fans of crime fiction that's edgy while having a soul. A Russian mafia thriller featuring a revenge plan and heist, it's loaded with adrenaline. 

However, it is just as touching as it is exciting. At the core of a plot about organized crime and pursuing police officers is the budding friendship of two young men who initially seem very different.  

Set in New York City, Lion on Fire will take you on a ride through a colorful cross section of neighborhoods and the lives that populate them. It's written in the tradition of the Manhattan thriller, showcasing both the glamour and the grit of the city. 

With this unique story, you'll find yourself quickly turning pages as your pulse rises, while rooting for characters who make their way into your heart.

Ted Galdi is also the author of the novels Elixir and An American Cage, and the short stories A Road to Nowhere and Hazel Is Missing.

Grab your copy of Lion on Fire today and meet the mob's most exciting duo.

Buy Links: Amazon 

My Review:
Lion on Fire is a quick read of approximately 165 pages.  A bit of a novella.  But in that short span of pages, Ted Galdi has produced a ton of action and suspense.

You may be left wondering how this sweet, honest, law-abiding, respectable young man could possibly have gotten himself mixed up with the Russian mafia and a whole pack of trouble.  Brian keeps trying to do the right thing by helping out his brother.  All he was going to do is act as a limo driver to earn some big bucks to pay off his brother's debt and possibly save his life, but as each day progresses, Brian gets himself in deeper and deeper into what looks like no way out.  And then there is Dusty.  Gotta love Dusty!  He and Brian become good friends and later attempt the unimaginable... to rob the Russian mafia and their casino.  Not for the money! For the honor of a girl, Brian's girlfriend. 

This is the third book I have read by Author Ted Galdi.  I become more and more fascinated by the way his mind works each time I read a new novel from him.  Keep going Ted.  I want to read more from you!

My Rating:

About the Author:

Ted Galdi, an Amazon #1 bestselling author, has been featured by Kirkus magazine, ABC, FOX, iHeartRadio, and many other media outlets. He’s a winner of a Reader Views Reviewers Choice Award and a Silver Medal in the Readers' Favorite Book Awards. Ted is a graduate of Duke University.

His available releases are the books Elixir, An American Cage, and Lion on Fire, and the short story A Road to Nowhere. 

To learn more about him and take advantage of his free offers, visit his website at

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