Blog Tour : A Firm Place to Stand

A FIRM PLACE TO STAND
by
LORI ALTEBAUMER
Genre: Christian / Romantic Suspense
Independently published
Date of Publication: January 25, 2020
Number of Pages: 321

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Review

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of a finished pdf copy from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

Has there ever been a moment in your life where you’ve felt like you can’t catch a break? Have you ever felt as though you were a burden to everyone you encounter? The main character Maribel has nothing but shortcomings her entire life but a job opportunity at Summer Camp in the middle has become available. She hasn’t had the best of luck with jobs or relationships but this may be her chance for a fresh start. That is until her car malfunctions and catches ablaze as she nears her new town. Within the first twenty-four hours of her arrival to her new town she finds a corpse in the river on her morning job, her car catches fire, and she has unexpectedly become involved in the secrets of her new town. Will she be able to uncover the secrets behind the dead body and the potential missing person? Can she keep her current role? How long can she keep her past hidden and stay hidden?

This book starts at a steady pace with the introduction of the main character and the author does a great job of capturing your attention in the beginning. We watch as Maribel’s character develops more as the storyline begins to unfold. The book begins with us seeing a glimpse into the past of Maribel and the preconceived notions she has about the people in her new town. She must learn to keep her guard up but also work to remove the walls she placed around herself to allow people a chance to get to know her. I enjoyed the development of each character and the realistic emotions tied to each character. Of course, as the story moved on I felt remorse for Maribel as she struggled to forgive herself for her past and move forward with the opportunity she was given. The author does a wonderful job of being descriptive when it came to explaining each character’s emotions, actions, and interactions. The writing style was intriguing where the author took the approach to alter between perspectives. There was no one true narrator in my opinion. The story was being told by each character and enjoyed getting the chance to be inside the mind of each character which aided in understanding the character development fully. I spent a great deal of time being both shocked and on the brink of tears while reading this book as it hit close to home to watch the main character try so hard. You can watch as the town’s secrets begin to unfold and Maribel sees who she can trust. With the journalist’s background in tow, she can observe her surroundings and get to the bottom of the town’s biggest secrets while simultaneously not realizing how sinister the villain in this novel is. I was thoroughly surprised and gasped out loud as finally came to the end of this book. All I can say is well done what a remarkable tale.

The author takes an interesting approach to the Christian based thriller. As the story continues to unfold you feel involved in the development of each character and invested in the outcome of the story. However, I did feel it was a little dry in some areas and wanted a bit more action. I felt there were high points in the story and a few low points in the story where I felt could have been developed a bit more. However, overall this was a well written Christian thriller. You can tell the author worked hard to have the biblical aspects of the story to fit well within the chapter. I enjoyed the fact that the author inserted a practical biblical tip of forgiveness and the importance of forgiveness. It is inspirational to see that focus inside this specific text that contains aspects of betrayal, loss, grief, and victimization. The author showcases the challenges of forgiveness from both parties. She sheds light on the perspective of forgiveness from the accuser and the person who has experienced the loss. the Bible discusses the importance of forgiveness throughout and the importance of relying on God to provide peace in the middle of a storm or turmoil. Special thanks to the author for doing a phenomenal job at incorporating the biblical aspect and the ability to have it flow so well.

 

I highly recommend this book for any who is interested in reading a thrilling christian mystery novel. This book is appropriate for young adults and higher as there isn’t any foul or rude content.

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A life-long Texan, Lori lives in a small community not far from the rugged West Texas landscape she loves to write about. The mother of now-grown twins, she has learned that the secret to survival is a well-developed sense of humor and an active prayer life. After years spent working in the insurance business, Lori now uses her time to educate, inspire, encourage, and entertain through the written word.

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Blog Tour: Violence/Joy/Chaos

VIOLENCE / JOY / CHAOS
by
Jane Marshall Fleming
Essays / Poems
Publisher: Rhythm & Bones Press
On Twitter
Date of Publication: April 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 154

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This debut full-length hybrid collection of essays and poetry explores the moments of joy and chaotic hilarity that mingle with the experiences of trauma and trauma recovery.

Jane Marshall Fleming writes with boldness and shows the beauty in every moment amidst violent chaos, embracing joy just as much as darkness. Moving from a backdrop of a small Virginia town and eventually finding herself in the freedom and wilderness of the desert, readers will follow the author on her journey mapping her skin, sharing in her joys, grief, pain, loss, discovering love and self-growth, night-blooming like a desert flower.

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Review

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

Have you ever had to make a challenging life choice? Held a secret from a family member? Have you ever been judged? Violence/ Joy/ Chaos is a collection of poetic writing that focuses on the life of the author. The author spends time diving into the most life-changing and challenging moments in her life. She takes you on the journey of love, loss, grief, self-discovery, pain, anger, and finally freedom. 

There aren’t too many words that I could use to fully describe how beautifully written this book of poetry is written. This book of poems flows wonderfully together as the author allows the reader to be transferred into her life. The highly descriptive writing style allows for the emotions of the author to be transferred onto the page. It is such a challenge to portray such raw emotions in such a way that not only captures the attention of the reader but also provides a connection between the reader and the storyline. There are moments during the reading that feel her anger, sadness, grief, love, pain, and finally freedom. You feel as though not only is she free from herself. Although her road to recovery and freedom was tumultuous it is truly enlightening to take on the journey to her discovering herself. The most beautiful part of this book is knowing that although she finally was able to find true love she still struggled daily with control. That is inspiring to know that it is okay to struggle even after you become free. Here dialogue with herself is powerful and shows the reader the true power of words. One of the most important conversations you will have is the one you have with yourself. 

I cried, I laughed, and I gasped while reading this book of poetry. There were a lot of instances where the author captures the essence of each moment being described. Throughout this collection of essays and poems, you find yourself crying when she cries, laughing when she laughs, and rejoicing in those moments of triumph. We are all transferred into her life as she takes us on a long-awaited journey through the years and we watch her find her voice and discover herself. There were a few moments where I essentially had to stop and process the information that was delivered. The following quote resonated with me the most. 

I had forgotten what brought me here. The loss, the pain. I left my

phone in the house while we walked. No buzzing, no texts, no pain.

No pain.

It encourages you to consider the times you have lost someone and have wandered from the path you were previously on. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a loss, it can be the end of a relationship, a traumatic event, or anything that has thrown your life for a loop. It reminds of those moments where you wander aimlessly hoping to find a place that has a solid ground or a place that will make you whole. I learned that wholeness for me didn’t come from a person but came from the Bible and building that relationship. Although you may find your freedom, it is okay to struggle but it is important to stay grounded and find your roots. 

I highly recommend this novel for any mature young adult. There are a few instances where they could be trigger warnings for those who have suffered abuse (sexual and domestic), struggled with suicide, and suffered a loss. I would take caution if you decide to read this book but overall the remaining context is appropriate for mature readers and adults. Special thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this book and thanks for writing it. It is an inspiring text. 

Click the link above to purchase this item or scroll towards the bottom of this review try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on a copy of this book!


Bourdeau Photo
Jane Marshall Fleming is an author and artist living in Austin, Texas. She currently works as an assistant instructor at the University of Texas at Austin and is also the author of the chapbook, Ocotillo Worship (Apep Publications, 2019). Violence/Joy/Chaos is her first full length collection.

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Blog Tour: Coded for Murder

CODED FOR MURDER

by
DIANNE SMITHWICK-BRADEN
Genre: Murder Mystery / Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: DSB Mysteries
Publication Date: September 26, 2019
Number of Pages: 358 pages

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Jade O’Neal is a senior at West Texas A & M University in Canyon, Texas. She’s on track to graduate with highest honors and a degree in history until she is accused of murder. She juggles her busy school and work schedule around taking care of an overgrown Rottweiler and being questioned by police until she finds a series of clues hidden in puzzle form. Time is against her as she follows the clues to find the true identity of the murderer while avoiding arrest and her own murder.
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Review

 

Rating :★★★★.5

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

 

Have you ever lost a loved one? Have you tried to move on with your life but unable to do so because of the memory? Jade and her Uncle Erik have restarted their lives after the loss of her Father. Erik O’Neal tries to do everything he can to work to solve the mystery of the murder of his brother all while trying to protect his niece. The more time he spends trying to look for facts and clues surrounding his brother’s death, the more at risk he puts his family. Will Erik solve the mystery surrounding his brother’s death or will he die trying.

This murder mystery is written in a diary-style format with the chapters including the dates. It is a unique approach to incorporating the time aspect into the storytelling. I’ve never seen a novel written in this style and third person. While reading I was able to fully be aware of the concept of time and the connection it has with the development of the story. I gave this book four and a half stars mostly because I felt it began a little slow. Although I enjoyed the beginning with the glimpse inside Jade and her Uncle Erik’s life I felt it would have been more suited later in the novel. On the contrary, the beginning did provide a great look at how some families move on after the death of a loved one and focus on the future. The author does a great job working to ensure the reader fully understand the full dynamic of each character and its role in the storyline. The plot twist will have you on the edge of your seat as the novel works to pick up speed. I laughed out loud at Teddy one of my absolute favorite characters in this novel. Throughout this novel, the reader gets to hear every thought, engage in every interaction, and feel every emotion the characters feel. This allowed for a more in-depth reading experience where I felt transported into the novel.

My question is where can I get me a Teddy? It is such a wonderful reading experience when the author is able to write a mystery novel that isn’t littered with foul language. I thoroughly enjoyed the modesty of the character Jade and the morality of Uncle Erik. Also, loved the Christian influence.

If you are interested in a well written, humorous, and engaging adult murder mystery novel then this book is for you!! I recommend this book to young adult and adult readers mostly due to the life lessons spread throughout this tale. Special thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this edge-of-your-seat murder mystery tale.

Click the link above to purchase this item or scroll towards the bottom of this review try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on a copy of this book!


Dianne Smithwick-Braden is a native Texan raised on the family farm near Vernon, Texas. She seasons her mysteries with a little romance, a dash of adventure, and a touch of humor. She currently resides in Amarillo, Texas with her husband, Richard. 

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Blog Tour: Finding Esme

FINDING ESME
by
SUZANNE CROWLEY
  
Genre: Middle Grade (3-7) / Magical Realism / Family & Loss
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Date of Publication: August 14, 2018
Number of Pages: 288

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After her grandfather died from a heart attack while driving his tractor on Solace Hill, twelve-year-old Esme’s been inextricably drawn to that spot, although her grandmother warns her to stay away. But when she follows her little brother, Bo, and her dog, Old Jack, up the hill while chasing fireflies, she makes an incredible discovery—dinosaur bones peeking out from underneath the abandoned tractor.

The bones must be a message from her grandfather, a connection from beyond the grave. But when word gets out that the farm is hiding something valuable, reporters, researchers, and neighbors arrive in droves. Esme struggles to understand who has her best interests at heart, especially as the memory of her grandfather begins to slip away.

Full of friendship and adventure, and featuring a palpable Texas setting, Finding Esme is a moving and heartfelt story about family, friendship, and learning to deal with loss.

PRAISE & HONORS FOR FINDING ESME:

“Esme is a brave, appealing heroine with the odds stacked against her… Bad blood and layered family secrets drive this story to its ultimately optimistic and satisfying conclusion.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

“Esme McCauley is a lonely but spirited 12-year-old who feels nothing ever happens to her the way it’s supposed to…A poignant tale for readers who enjoy character-driven realism.” — School Library Journal

“Readers muddling through preteen changes or unstable family lives will identify with Esme’s struggles, but the thrill of discovery will appeal to most.” — Booklist

Texas Library Association 2019 Spirit of Texas (SPOT) reading program selection

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

Have you ever experienced a loss? Have you ever felt the need to reconnect with someone you have lost? Finding Esme takes the reader on the journey through the mind of a young child and her family as they continue to deal with the aftermath of the loss of her grandfather. As the story continues to unfold the author allows the reader to gain a better understanding of Esme’s relationship with her grandfather. We are then able to dive into why she is struggling so hard with his loss. Esme wants so desperately to be a contributing member of her family, but she’s only twelve. There aren’t many things a twelve-year-old can do to make money. As she struggles to come to terms with how desperate family is to save their farm and her inability to help, she discovers something far more amazing. Her connection with her late grandfather runs deeper than she could have ever imagined. Esme and her grandfather share a similar gift. Some might call the gift magic!

This book is filled with numerous components that make it hard to focus on just one. There is a sense of adventure, self discovery, family, friendships, loss, mystery, and acceptance. The author does a phenomenal job of telling this story in a way that provides the reader with a chance to understanding the emotions of each character. This story transports you into the life and home of Eme and her family. Esme is far more mature for her age than other twelve-year-olds. I adore the uniqueness associated with each character and the detail provided. The development of the main and supporting characters allowed for a better baseline of the story and enhanced the plot. The realism and emotional influence in the authors writing style had me in tears as I got to know Esme, her best friend, and her mother. Esme’s life is far from perfect. She struggles with coming to terms with the loss of her grandfather, supporting her grandmother, and being there for her younger brother. However, we watch as Esme learns acceptance and embraces her gift that will lead to happiness and connection.

This coming of age story transports you into the life of Esme. A young girl whose knack for discovery leads her to the greatest treasure of all that could potentially save her family’s farm. This book is filled with grief, love, friendships, and childlike discovery. The ending of this book will have you shedding tears of joy as we watch the main character is able to use her “gift” in a unique way. This book reminded me a lot of my life growing up. I had an absent father, a mother who was gone, and I was raised by my grandmother. I remember as a young child having the similar thoughts as Esme and thanking God the same way she does in the novel.

If you are interested in a well written, relatable, thought provoking, explorative, coming of age elementary/middle-grade novel, then this book is for you! I recommend this book to all young readers looking to engage in a story that will encourage their sense of discovery and adventure. Special thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this remarkable tale.

Click the link above to purchase this item or scroll towards the bottom of this review try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on a copy of this book!

Suzanne Crowley is the author of two acclaimed novels for young readers, The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous and The Stolen One. The author, who is also a miniaturist and dollhouse collector whose work has graced the covers of magazines worldwide, was born in a small town in Texas and lives in Southlake, Texas. When not hugging her dog or imbibing in chocolate, she can often be found taking a nap.
 

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Blog Tour: Road to Hope

ROAD TO HOPE
How One Woman Went from
Doubting Her Path to
Embracing Her Inner Journey
by
Dena Jansen
Genre: Memoir / Inspirational / Christian Life
Publication Date: November 15, 2019
Number of Pages: 240 pagesScroll down for a giveaway!

Have you ever felt stuck? If so, you are not alone. As a 36-year-old wife, mother, and corporate executive, Dena Jansen’s life looked successful by society’s standards. But she found herself at an intersection—stranded at a real-life crossroads in her life.


Over a matter of years, darkness and doubt slowly crept in, leaving her unsure and unsettled in her life, marriage, and career. And after stalling out multiple times and nearly wrecking everything, she finally grabbed hold of a life-saving truth:
She had a choice to make. She could stay stuck, or she could try and find new roads that would lead to the peace and joy she was looking for.

With a glimmer of hope, Dena embraced the gifts of curiosity and grace and began a journey of self-discovery. And she chose to believe in a new truth:

She was meant for more and could no longer settle.

In Road to Hope, Dena invites you to join her as she wanders the roads she traveled and take anything you need from her story to help you in yours. She shares how she grew from a woman who doubted her path to one who is confident and ready for the next adventure. And she wants you to experience a similar shift. And more than that, she believes you can.


Review

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

 

Have you ever felt stuck? Have you ever reached a point in your life where you wondered how you got there? Author Dena Jansen reaches that point in her life where she realizes that maybe the life she is currently living isn’t meant for her. She concludes that she has achieved society’s expectation of what her life should look like from the outside in. However, she reaches a point where she is no longer happy and starts to reexamine her current situation looking for answers as to why. She lives a “perfect” life compared to others but she is still left unfulfilled. Dena must face the hard truth and make a decision on her happiness and for once put her needs above her family’s.

This Christian inspired memoir takes a unique approach to present the reader with the events of Dena Jansen’s life. Dena does an exceptional job of capturing the reader from the beginning with a relational opening paragraph that encourages critical thinking. She dives into her self realization journey allowing the reader to engage with her full thought process and emotions. I enjoyed the full disclosure from the author which allowed for a better connection between the reader and the story dialogue. She breaks down every interaction with her family, her therapist, and her friends. Dena essentially reaches a point in her life where she has achieved success but doesn’t feel like she has. She is stuck. Her accomplishments do not link up with her feelings, leaving her feeling empty and exposed. She must take herself on a journey to find herself. During her journey of self-discovery, she encounters people along the way that challenge her sense of identity and her purpose. She later realizes that she has a choice in the life she wants to live. We essentially must come to the end of ourselves before we can hear God speaking to us. The remainder of the novel is her embracing her spiritual connection with God and Christ. I felt her vulnerability through the page while reading her internal dialogue with God and her growing in her faith and allowing his presence to fill her.

The question remains, what do you do when you are stuck? What do you do when you reach a crossroads in your life? I recommend starting with this novel to gain a first-hand look at how Dena handled the same questions. It is refreshing to see an author write a memoir that allows for full disclosure into her thought process, essentially allowing the reader to be in the passenger seat of her journey. I highly recommend this memoir for anyone interested in a well-written self-discovery book that will encourage you to shift the way you look at your life now. This memoir will have you re-evaluating your purpose.

Click the link above to purchase this item or scroll towards the bottom of this review try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on a copy of this book!


Dena Jansen’s calling to lift others up is profoundly personal. She understands the fears and doubts that hold people back because she has them too. Her own path to fulfillment is a real-life journey that’s still very much in progress. As a CPA and retired partner from Austin-based CPA firm Maxwell Locke & Ritter, she launched Dena Speaks to inspire potential seeking individuals and businesses. Dena shares life and love with her husband, JP, and their two children, Trace, and Elizabeth in Buda, Texas. She loves romantic comedy movies, listening to podcasts, and spending time with her family and friends.

 
 
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Blog Tour: Covey and JayJay Get Educated

COVEY AND JAYJAY
GET EDUCATED
by
Shelton L. Williams
Genre: Murder Mystery / Social Thriller / Amateur Sleuth
Publication Date: September 1, 2019
Number of Pages: 209 pages

 

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Amateur detectives, Covey Jencks and JayJay Qualls, are drawn into a triple murder on the campus of Baker College in West Waverly in the Texas Hill Country. Both end up taking positions at the college: Covey as an adjunct instructor and JayJay as a visiting actor. 


Initially they believe that money is the motive for the murders, but over time they learn that the college is a cauldron of political and social intrigue. The college’s new president and his beautiful wife, various staff members, a prominent trustee, and parties not associated with the college have the motives, opportunities, and wacky agendas that might implicate them in the murders. It turns out that a white nationalist group may be using a college house for its nefarious activities, but are they more talk than action? 

The West Waverly police are little to no help in the investigation, and Covey himself has to depart the college to deal with his father’s death. JayJay takes over and makes a critical breakthrough. Upon Covey’s return, the couple must rely on deception, a bit of luck, and martial arts skills to solve the crimes and to try to prevent a high-profile assassination.


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Rating :★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in those are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

This book can be read as a standalone but is the second book in the Covey Jencks mystery series. Covey and JayJay are two friends who serve as amateur detectives in this West Texas mystery novel. As they work to solve the unexpected murder of three individuals at Baker College and clear the name of a friend, they uncover more than just the suspect.

As they work to uncover the mystery behind the murders they uncover a white nationalist movement at the same time. The author does a phenomenal job diving into the social issues and discovering major discriminatory acts that occurred in the area. You can tell the author spent time conducting research and digging deep to understand the make up of the area during the time this fiction novel was set in.

I enjoyed the dialogue between the main characters and the way the writing flowed. The author spent a great deal of time working on the layout, writing style, and character development. The character interaction felt real and personal. I also enjoyed the uniqueness associated with the chapter style. I have not seen a novel written with the chapters from a main perspective and from a character specific perspective. It allowed for the novel to be conveyed using two methods and gave insight into the mind of the main character. This book is filled with twists, turns , and interrogations. There were numerous occasions where I gasped out loud while reading and laughed at the interactions between the main characters and supporting characters. How far will you go to prove your friend’s innocence? Throughout the whole novel I thought I had a pretty good idea of why the murders occurred until closer towards the end and I noticed there was a bigger issue at hand than the murders.

I highly recommend this novel if you are looking for a thought-provoking adult mystery novel that focuses on social issues written from two perspectives; one from a person of color and one from a narrative perspective. Click the link above to purchase this item or try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on this book!


Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on 4 occasions and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now Covey Jencks. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.
 
 Amazon Author Page  



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THIRD PRIZE: Audio book of Covey and JayJay Get Educated
FOURTH PRIZE: Kindle version of Covey and JayJay Get Educated
DECEMBER 10-20, 2019
(U.S. Only)
 

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12/10/19
Notable Quotable
12/10/19
Notable Quotable
12/11/19
Review
12/12/19
Author Interview
12/13/19
Review
12/13/19
Playlist
12/14/19
Review
12/14/19
Excerpt Part I
12/15/19
Excerpt Part II
12/16/19
Review
12/16/19
Notable Quotable
12/17/19
Review
12/18/19
Scrapbook Page
12/19/19
Review
12/19/19
Review

 

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