Of Daggers and Deception Blog Tour and Giveaway

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Title: Of Daggers and Deception
Series: Book Two in the Duchy of Athens Series
Author: A. L. Sowards
Release Day: December 6, 2021
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Formats: Print, ebook, audio
Genres: Christian Historical Fiction, Medieval Adventure

Full book synopsis: 
After years as a soldier and mercenary, Rasheed has retired from battle to run the bathhouse in Thebes with his friends Gillen and Eudocia. The simple life suits them, so when Venetian strangers come to town looking to hire the renowned crew, their answer is no. But when one of his friends is abducted, Rasheed is left with no choice but to take up his weapons and join forces with the Venetians, including the beautiful and clever Cecilia, whose betrothed has also been seized by the unknown foe.

As the reluctant allies face ambushes and the looming threat of capture, Rasheed and Cecilia forge a surprising connection. But as the party races to rescue their friends, Rasheed discovers that nothing is as it seems. As his trust in Cecilia begins to waver, he realizes that in the end, they will both be forced to make a choice between love and duty.

Short book synopsis: When one of his best friends is abducted, Rasheed immediately gathers a rescue party. Joining forces with the mysterious Cecilia, the group faces pirates, old enemies, and a host of other foes. Rasheed forms a surprising connection with Cecilia, but he soon discovers that nothing is as it seems, especially when they are forced to choose between love and duty.

Author bio:
A. L. Sowards is the author of multiple historical fiction novels, with settings spanning the globe from the fourteenth to twentieth centuries. Her stories have earned a Whitney Award, several Whitney Finalists positions, and a Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal. She enjoys hiking and swimming, usually manages to keep up with the laundry, and loves it when someone else cooks dinner. She currently lives in the beautiful state of Alaska with her husband, three children, and an ever-growing library.

Author links:


Of Daggers and Deception is a medieval action-adventure novel as the characters race to save a friend. The characters and the historical content are interesting and intriguing. This was a slow read for me, but I still enjoyed the adventures and action throughout the story. The characters encounter several obstacles and unexpected twists and turns. I also like some of the passages of Rasheed explaining Christianity to his brother. I felt like the author had some interesting insights that she shared through her characters. I also liked the diversity within this book. This book will appeal to both male and female audiences. I felt like the romance was really subtle and the book covered more of the dangers of this time period as they face slavers, pirates, enemies, deception and more. To learn more about Daggers and Deception, click here.

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Please note that I received a free ecopy of this book, however, this is my honest opinion. This post also contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

Wendy's Pirates Review

Tuesday, December 14, 2021


In 1817, Wendy Darling returns from London to her family in Devon, where she meets Captain James Hooke, a dashing naval officer who both infuriates and intrigues her. But Wendy is hiding a dark secret—and running from a past that makes it impossible for her to trust the incorrigible captain. And James has secrets of his own, secrets he’s afraid will interfere with his desire to win Wendy’s heart.

When the Darling family takes in a young orphan boy named Peter, the two newcomers in Wendy’s life help her learn to open her heart and begin to trust again. But when a gang of pirates sails into port in search of Peter, will trust be enough to save Wendy and those she loves from danger?

Varnell takes J. M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan characters and introduces them to risks and romance that go far beyond the average fairy tale. As Wendy and Hooke fight for new beginnings, they learn that happy endings aren’t always guaranteed.

Wendy's Pirates is a described as a retelling of Peter Pan, however, I would say that it's more in the spirit of Peter Pan. Some of the characters are quite unexpectedly different from the original story and when I heard it was a retelling, I expected the characters to be similar from the original story. There were scenes that just were beautifully written. The novella also felt like it had the essence of what Peter Pan the story was trying to share to the readers. This story was a quick read that I really enjoyed. The story was clean and filled with mystery and action. I did feel like the foreshadowing was a bit forced in parts. The story kept alluding to the past without really coming out and saying what it was, and I understand that the author was trying to set up the plot reveal for later in the story, but it frustrated me as a reader. This book was wholesome and clean. This would also be a good romance for teens and young adults. I look forward to seeing what this author comes up with next. To learn more about Wendy's Pirates, click here.

Please note that I received a free ebook to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

Boy Between Worlds The Novice Collector Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway

Monday, December 13, 2021


Boy Between Worlds: The Novice Collector

Written by Cynthia C. Huijgens

Ages 8-12 | 187 Pages

Publisher: Idle Time Press | ISBN-13: 9781732925847

Publisher’s Synopsis: On his thirteenth birthday, Max Mead wakes up battered and bruised in the villa of his grandfather, a famous antiquities expert, in Cairo. He has a hard time remembering how he got there, but slowly details of his quest to locate his missing grandfather begin to emerge. But the Lieutenant, leader of a ruthless antiquities trafficking gang, has left Max with more than a few nasty bruises.

Available for purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.


Cynthia C. Huijgens writes for children of all ages, including children’s picture books. She holds a BA in Art and Design, Masters in Education, and is a certified K-12 Art Teacher. Cynthia graduated from Simon Fraser University’s The Writer’s Studio.

For more information, visit https://www.idletimepress.com.

Boy Between Worlds: The Novice Collector shares the story of how a boy follows his grandfather's footsteps by becoming a novice collector. The novice collector can see historical events through the use of artifacts. The story contains several villains that are trying to misuse artifacts for their own gain. The book integrates Egyptian history into the story, which will help get kids interested in history and historical events. I love that the book encourages readers to realize that objects have a history even if the object may seem less interesting and discarded. This book encourages kids to be interested in the history around them. Readers will be interested in the characters and get excited to see the adventures that they encounter.  The story is a quick and easy read. I like that the book characters are all very different and introduces children to different foods and a different culture. The main character, Max, in the book still seems like he needs to grow and mature a little more in his responsibilities. He doesn't always seem to have the best attitude or maturity and my guess is that he'll continue to grow and develop throughout the series. The side characters are unique, and I liked the description of Kiki. The book will be a fun and adventurous read for middle-grade readers.


Enter for a chance to win a Boy Between Worlds prize pack!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:

  • An autographed copy of Boy Between Worlds: The Novice Collector
  • Two (2) 100% pashminas purchased from a vendor in the Khan el Kahlili, Cairo
  • A custom bookmark
  • An Idle Time Press t-shirt

Three (3) winners receive:

Please note that this post is in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Idle Time Press. I received a free ebook to review, however, I shared my honest opinion.

An Accidental Romance Blog Tour and Giveaway

Friday, December 10, 2021


Rebecca Jennings’s first London Season has been absolutely ruined, and one person alone is responsible: Mr. Ben Fortescue. If her new neighbor hadn’t startled her, she would never have broken her ankle, leaving her bored and frustrated at home in the country while her sister enters the London Season alone. Although, it was rather gallant of him to carry her home . . .

For his part, Ben feels terrible about the role he played in Miss Rebecca Jennings’s accident. In the days that follow their first disastrous meeting, he finds himself inexorably drawn to the surprising young woman—first out of guilt and then out of a stirring affection. But Ben hides a secret: he has not been completely forthright about his identity or about the dark secrets of his past that would make it impossible for romance to blossom with Miss Jennings. Despite his love for her, he knows he must let her go.

With her ankle finally healed but her heart now broken, Rebecca is left with little choice but to throw herself into the Season. With eligible men circling this late addition to the Marriage Mart, it seems that Rebecca will have no shortage of suitors. If only her heart were free to give.

An Accidental Romance is part of the Jennings Family series by Karen Tuft. The only other book of this series that I've read is The Gentleman's Deception. I found this book could be read as a stand-alone or as part of the series. The plot moved along swiftly, and the author gave the characters time to get to know each other and let the romance slowly unfold with events and dialogue. I also felt like the author had a fresh take on a romance for the Regency time period. The characters were likeable, and I liked the twists and turns in the story. There were things in the story that I couldn't have predicted as a reader and there were other things that was easily predictable. Some of the social norms for the Regency time period was ignored from the very beginning and I found that a bit odd that it was left like that when it could have easily been remedied and it threw me off for a bit. I kept expecting more to happen, but most of the other breakaways from the time period were explained and seemed justified. Other than that, I found it was a clean, wholesome romance and a fun, quick read. To learn more about An Accidental Romance, click here.

Please note that I received a free ebook to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

Avalina Jones and the Eye of the Storm Virtual Book Tour, Review, Author Interview and Giveaway

Thursday, December 9, 2021


Avalina Jones and the Eye of the Storm

Written by Lori Adams

Ages 9-12 | 336 Pages

Publisher: Spyhop Publishing | ISBN-13: 9781737131205

Publisher’s Synopsis: When a young girl learns she is the Last Heir of the legendary pirate Davy Jones, she is whisked away to begin life aboard an enchanted schoolship for Pirate Heirs where danger and excitement awaits.

Contemporary kids who happen to be Heirs of the most villainous and celebrated pirates in history. Superstitions, mysteries, curses, secrets, strange ocean creatures, undead pirates, and seafaring legends will thrill middle-grade readers in this rollicking, globe-trotting adventure.

Avalina Jones, the Last Heir of the infamous pirate Davy Jones, has never heard of Sea Magic, flying dinghies, Pirate Heir schoolships, phantom islands, undead pirates, or creatures called Half Ones. And she has never understood her strange connection to water. But when a beautiful woman arrives in a swirling waterspout, Avalina’s life explodes with more adventures than she can possibly imagine. She takes her rightful place aboard a giant Pirate Heir schoolship teeming with Heirs of the world’s most nefarious pirates.

Raised as a Landlubber, Avalina quickly realizes bizarre and danger are normal aboard Pirate Heir schoolships-food fights back, school supplies giggle or explode in your face. And not everyone can be trusted.

When Avalina is accused of a terrible crime, she must prove her innocence or risk being banished from the schoolship forever-and this in the middle of a crucial Treasure Hunt!

Avalina races to unlock the secrets of the ship, and makes a dangerous discovery that threatens everyone aboard. With the help of her new friends Charlie, Pippa, and Bummy, Avalina draws closer to the truth, unaware that a deeper, darker fate awaits.

Author Lori Adams expertly delivers a story that is timeless, bringing together elements of sea lore, magic, and adventure. The first book in a seven-book series, Avalina Jones and the Eye of the Storm, is a romping tale for middle graders who are searching for the next enduring fantasy classic.

Available for purchase on Amazon here or Bookshop.org here.


LORI ADAMS is the author of the Avalina Jones series for middle-grade readers (Avalina Jones and the Eye of the Storm (#1) as well as two young adult series: The Kate March Mysteries: Speak Easy (#1) set in Hollywood during the Roaring Twenties, and the Soulkeepers Series: Forbidden, Awaken, and Unforgiven, a paranormal fantasy set in the quintessential but fictitious town of Haven Hurst, Connecticut and first published through Random House.

Lori was born and raised in Oklahoma but moved to Southern California where she lives with her family. She loves traipsing along SoCal’s wonderful beaches, watching Angel’s baseball, Cowboys’ football. Aside from writing, Lori loves reading and watching Classic Hollywood Movies.

For more information, visit https://loriadamsbooks.com.

Avalina Jones and the Eye of the Storm follows the orphan trope that discovers something unique about their origins, however, this series is really unique in that it creates a magical pirate world. The magical pirate world has a school for children, adventures, food that fights back, unique creatures, mysteries, curses, magic, and danger. The world is so unique and different that at first it was a little hard to understand all of the dynamics, and I felt like the author rushed a little bit where I needed a bit more description and explanation. As the story progressed, I gradually caught onto how the world worked. The world is vastly interesting and imaginative. The story is filled with action, memorable scenes and mystery. The author did a good job at making this story an action-packed adventure and incorporating famous pirate names. It was never dull or tedious to read. Overall, it was an exciting read and start of a series. I think it's a book that both boys and girls would enjoy reading. The scenes weren't too scary and I felt like it was appropriate for Elementary school kids to read. It's a book that I would feel comfortable with my 8 year old boy reading.


Life Is What It's Called - What inspired you to write Avalina Jones: And the Eye of the Storm

Lori Adams - Strangely enough, the seed that sprouted the Avalina Jones series came from an online article about cruise ships. Some years ago, I read about a trend involving elderly folks retiring to live—full time—aboard large cruise ships. They had all their needs met: food, entertainment, travel, and access to doctors. My mind immediately jumped to having children from all cultures living on ships and supplied with everything they needed: food, schools, friends, libraries, adventures, and exploration. And without parents! But these children had to be distinct. Special. And unique. Hours of ship research kept leading me to pirates. While pirates have their place in history, I took the liberty of cultivating an alternative view for middle-grade readers. Keeping some of their more flamboyant and adventurous characteristics, I revolutionized pirate society and created a contemporary world for Heirs to the Pirate Kingdom. Avalina Jones is the last heir of the infamous pirate, Davy Jones. She lives on an enchanted schoolship along with other Pirate Heirs. Adding a touch of Sea Magic and bizarre sea creatures, the series set sail in a whole new direction. And of course, Pirate Heirs have their own secrets and mysteries. And not everything is as it seems.

Life Is What It's Called - How does this new book series differ from your other series? 

Lori Adams - The Avalina Jones series is my first journey into middle-grade fiction. My first young adult series, the Soulkeepers: Forbidden, Awaken, and Unforgiven is a paranormal fantasy geared toward older teens with a slightly darker theme. It’s set in the quintessential but fictitious town of Haven Hurst, Connecticut. This series rotates three points of view—the main character, Sophia St. James, (who is not who she thinks she is) a guardian angel, Michael Patronus (who tries to protect her), and a demon knight, Dante Dannoso (who is desperate to take her soul). My most recent young adult series, Speak Easy, A Kate March Mystery (#1) is a historical murder mystery for teens with adult crossover potential. It features a tenacious young reporter determined to solve the murder of Hollywood’s beloved film director. The Kate March Mysteries, as a whole, is steeped in 1920s Hollywood with authentic settings, fashion, lingo, and zero fantasy. So far. 

Life Is What It's Called -  How is it similar to your other series? 

Lori Adams - For similarities I would look at the main characters. Each series is led by an intrepid, flawed, and determined heroine. Avalina, Sophia, and Kate are vastly different due to setting, time period, and circumstance but share common characteristics. They have a deep desire to plunge into life (somewhat recklessly) but always with good intentions. I would imagine, if I asked them, they would all three agree with that saying, “I do not intend to tiptoe through life to arrive safely at death” ~M.M. Gavillet. 

Life Is What It's Called - What do you think kids will learn from the Avalina Jones series? 

Lori Adams - I hope kids, who might be reluctant readers, will discover the joy of escaping into a book or diving into a story and giving their imaginations free rein. There is no technology aboard Pirate Heir schoolships but there are several tangible things kids will pick up throughout the series: ship terminology, sailing commands, identifying sailing knots, celestial maps, and reading wind and weather. Curious readers might like to follow the schoolships’ plotted courses throughout each book. While the Phantom Islands are from my imagination, the general geography, islands, and oceans can be traced on any map. Interwoven within the plotlines are also key life lessons that readers will experience alongside Avalina and her deckmates while living aboard a Pirate Heir schoolship: teamwork, healthy competition, friendship, comradery, overcoming bullies, keeping your word, following rules, respecting diversity, and acceptance. When Avalina doesn’t want to reveal her unique, supernatural ‘gift’ because she’s afraid to be seen as different, First Officer, Scarlet Read says, “And why not be different? How marvelous that we are all born unique and special. Imagine how tiresome life would be if we were all the same. Don’t fret, Miss Jones, by being different you fit in quite nicely here, I assure you.” 

Life Is What It's Called -  How many books will be in this series? 

Lori Adams - There are seven books in the Avalina Jones series. 

Life Is What It's Called - How much fun did you have writing this book?

Lori Adams - I had more fun writing this book than I ever expected! There is a saying I learned in a great writer’s workshop: write the book you want to read. Avalina Jones and the Eye of the Storm is the book I would love to have read when I was young. Writing it, I let my imagination run amok and had a ball in the process. 

Life Is What It's Called - Was there anything difficult for you about writing this book? 

Lori Adams - Difficult? Not really, but I did challenge myself to learn ship terminology and knot tying, which was fun. However, I will say that I began this book in 2012 and went through numerous revisions. It was originally written in third person. Then I rewrote the entire book in first person. And then decided I liked third person best. The original version was slightly longer so it has been trimmed down. I put the whole project aside when the Soulkeepers series was acquired by Random House. With that completed, I returned to Avalina Jones and made more revisions. Just part of the process that led to the final version. 

Life Is What It's Called - What are some of your upcoming writing projects? 

Lori Adams -  I’ll be working on the Avalina Jones series for another six books. The Kate March Mysteries is an open series, so I’ll write them as they come. The Soulkeepers series is currently off the market for repackaging. I’ll be re-releasing it under Spyhop Publishing, hopefully next year. So, I’ve got my hands full at the moment. Other stories clamoring for my attention are on the back burning for now. I’ve had some wonderful reviewers anxious to read the next book in the Avalina Jones series, as well as the Kate March Mysteries so the pressure is on! 

Life Is What It's Called - Why did you decide to be an author? 

Lori Adams -  I’m not sure I ever ‘decided’ to be an author. I think I’ve always had it in my head, underneath everything else—that constant voice creating characters, storylines, or editing the stories I was reading. I’ve always loved to read. I was the kid under the covers with the flashlight reading after lights out. I wrote for fun and as a hobby for years, basically teaching myself until I enrolled in a writing workshop. It was there that I began to take it seriously and think about publishing. The journey to becoming an author feels like a natural progression—what I’m supposed to be doing. I tried to stop once and put it aside but found I was subconsciously creating stories in my head or dialogue or characters. Stopping didn’t stick. And now I can’t imagine myself not writing.

Enter for a chance to win an Avalina Jones and the Eye of the Storm prize pack!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:

  • An autographed copy of Avalina Jones: And the Eye of the Storm
  • An Avalina Jones quote tote
  • A Hands-Off Me Gigglin’ Grog mug
  • An Avalina Jones fridge magnet
  • An Avalina Jones bookmark

Two (2) winners receive:

  • An autographed copy of Avalina Jones: And the Eye of the Storm
  • An Avalina Jones bookmark

This post is in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Lori Adams.

Broken Dreams Review and Giveaway

Friday, December 3, 2021

A lifetime ago, Maggie Alexander’s parents narrowly missed medaling in the Olympics as pairs figure skaters. Now a coach, her father Gordon is living his dreams through the skaters he trains—until Maggie is forced to deliver heartbreaking news: her mother’s battle against cancer will be a losing one. Shattered, her father loses his dreams in an instant—his beloved wife and his will to coach. Left to pick up the pieces, a devastated Maggie finds herself relying on the steadfast support of her childhood best friend, Lance Whitmore.

Despite the fact that Maggie has never seen Lance as more than a friend, his heart has always been hers. Lance does what he can to help Maggie work through her grief, and soon their friendship blossoms into love. But when distance threatens their relationship, Maggie is torn between building a life with the man she loves and helping her broken father rebuild his life. 

Broken Dreams is a novella part of the Dream Edge's series. This could be read as a stand-alone or part of a series. This novella isn't an easy read in that it deals with a romance in the midst of grief and trying to recover over the loss of a loved one. I felt like it was realistic in some ways by showing the sad points in the life and the resilience to deal with it and to find joy again. The characters were likeable and memorable. The story was well-written and planned out. I look forward to reading more in this series. Click here to learn more.

This post is in cooperation with the publisher. Please note that I received a free ebook to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post also contains affiliate links.

Sprout Book Review

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

A geek, and proud of it, twelve-year-old Pete is determined to win the school science fair in an effort to convince his sports-enthusiast dad into accepting science as a worthwhile endeavor and for once be proud of Pete. Upon discovering a giant seed in the forest, Pete figures he has the grand prize wrapped up in a nutshell. When the seed sprouts into a baby, the science fair is off—no one can know the truth about Pete’s newly “adopted” brother, Sprout. Not even his dad. But when Sprout grows at an alarming rate, his skin turns green in the sun, and he exhibits super-hero-like plant powers, Pete fears he won’t be able to protect his new brother for long from those who would view Sprout as a threat. To make matters worse, Pete fears his dad likes Sprout more than him.

I didn't read the "About the Book" synopsis before reading the book and I was surprised when a baby came out of a seed that Pete and his sister found in the forest. There were a lot of unexpected twists in this novel that the author foreshadowed that I didn't pick up on until the author revealed them. This book was a really interesting read. It was very different and unique mostly through the character, Sprout. The author did a good job at describing his uniqueness and his abilities and Pete's reaction to it. I liked how the author incorporated realism and magical/fantasy elements. There was a lot of layers in this book with the mystery, Sprout's amazing abilities and Pete trying to figure out his role and who he is. This would make a good book to discuss in a classroom setting or kids book club. It would also be a fun book to read out loud to kids. I liked seeing the progression of Pete as he starts to change his attitude and realize that some of his fears and worries are of his own making.  Overall, it's an interesting, clean read that I think kids would enjoy diving in to. It's a series that both boys and girls would enjoy reading. I am curious to see how this series plays out. To learn more about Sprout, click here.

Please note that I received a free ebook, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.
Please note that I received a free ecopy of this book to review, however, this is my honest opinion.
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