Thursday, September 16, 2021

DAD: A Novel

It’s a pleasure to share that author Steven Manchester has just released his new heartfelt book, DAD: A Novel!

Three generations of dads, playing traditional roles in each other's lives, arrive simultaneously at significant crossroads. The decisions they make and the actions they take will directly – and eternally – affect each other.

After a life of hard work and raising children, Robert is enjoying his well-deserved retirement when he discovers that he has an illness he might not be able to beat. At 19, Jonah is sprinting across the threshold of adulthood when he learns, stunningly, that he's going to become a father. And Oliver – Robert's son and Jonah's dad – has entered middle age and is paying its demanding price. While reconciling the time and effort it has taken him to reach an unfulfilling career and an even less satisfying marriage, he realizes that it's imperative that he keep it all together for the two men who mean everything to him.

When different perspectives lead to misunderstandings that remain unspoken – sometimes for years – it takes great strength and even more love to travel beyond the resentment.

Dad: A Novel chronicles the sacred legacy of fatherhood.

DAD: A Novel can be purchased at Amazon.

It's become a bit of a signature for Steven to include a poem at the very end of his novels. Here's what I've selected for this one.

The Greatest Teachers

by Steven Manchester

My children have taught me…

that trust is sealed before the first step
and real understanding does not require words;
that a baby’s breath and angels’ wings make the same sound,
and bonds forged on sleepless nights are eternal.

My children have taught me…

that the greatest wonders are found within the smallest moments;
and the grip of a tiny hand slips away much too fast;
that the word “proud” can inspire unimaginable feats,
while the word “disappointed” can scar the soul.

My children have taught me…

that doing something means so much less than being there,
as one day at the park is more valuable than ten visits to the toy store;
that laughter is contagious and can destroy all worries,
and Santa Claus is alive and well—all that’s needed is faith.

My children have taught me…

that the most powerful prayers are made up of the simplest words,
humbled, grateful and spoken from the heart;
and that for most ailments, the best medicine is a kiss
or a hug for someone who wouldn’t dream of asking.

My children have taught me…

that friends can be made with no more than a smile
and real blessings are found amongst family and friends;
that the future promises magic and wonder,
and that dreams must be chased until each one comes true

Meet the Author: Steven Manchester

After returning home from a difficult tour of duty in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, I stepped back behind the walls of a Massachusetts penitentiary where I battled each day as a prison investigator. Needless to say, there was great negativity in my life at that time, and very little opportunity to heal from my wartime demons (or pursue my dreams of being published). I finally decided to return to college to finish my degree in Criminal Justice. During one of the classes, my professor, Barry McKee, detailed police work, but barely touched on other topics. I finally raised his hand and asked, “As the criminal justice system is so vast, what about the courts, probation, parole – corrections?” Barry smiled and told me to see him after class. I thought I’d done it! In his office, Barry explained, “Except from the slanted perspectives of inmates, there’s no real written material out there on corrections, or prisons.” Barry smiled again and then dropped the bomb that would change my life forever. “If you’re so smart,” he said, “why don’t you write it?” It was the last push I needed to get writing. Nine months later, I placed the first draft of 6-5; A Different Shade of Blue (under the pen name, Steven Herberts) on Barry’s desk. From then on, I was hooked. I was a writer.

Today, 25 years later, I am the author of four #1 national bestsellers: Twelve Months, The Rockin' Chair, Pressed Pennies and Gooseberry Island. My long-anticipated, critically acclaimed novel, The Changing Season, has just been released. I’m also the author of the award-winning novel, Goodnight, Brian, while my work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of my short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series and I’m the produced playwright of Three Shoeboxes.

When not spending time with my beautiful wife, Paula, or our four children, I’m either promoting my works or writing.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today during Steven’s visit. Have you ever thought about how several generations of one family could be facing so many issues that are so different and yet so alike at the same time?

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

A Most Clever Girl

Author Stephanie Marie Thornton takes readers on a thrill ride inside the calculating mind of a notorious Cold War spy (Elizabeth Bentley, code name Clever Girl) in her new book out today, A MOST CLEVER GIRL.

In the spirit of John Le Carre, Stephanie brings to life the remarkable true story of a spy who worked for both Russia and the United States in the 1940s and 50s. Bentley is often credited with starting America’s Communist Red Scare, and for naming hundreds of American Communists as traitors to the state―including Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the infamous American couple sentenced to death for treason.

Decades after Bentley’s death, Stephanie’s A MOST CLEVER GIRL (Berkley Trade Paperback; On Sale September 14, 2021) is the first historical novel to tell her story, exposing the ruthlessness of her Russian counterparts and the intense pressures she faced at every turn, ultimately illuminating the enormous emotional and psychological toll that she paid for her work.

Some of Bentley’s male counterparts provided similar espionage and informant work and were awarded high honors for their service by the American government. But Bentley’s story has largely been pushed under the rug. The truth of her court testimonies has constantly been called into question, despite a now-declassified report that has verified her statements. Stephanie’s novel aims to shed light on Bentley’s story and polish her somewhat tarnished reputation―while still leaving readers guessing at her motives and her version of the truth.

A MOST CLEVER GIRL opens in 1963, as college student Catherine Gray arrives unannounced on the doorstep of a woman named Elizabeth Bentley, gun in hand, demanding answers about a scandalous family secret that has just been revealed. But Catherine never expects all that Elizabeth is about to expose.

Elizabeth’s narrative takes readers through her recruitment to the American Communist Party in her youth, and how her unique education and experiences allowed her to successfully spy on fascists at the outbreak of World War II. Elizabeth falls deeper into the Party when she sets off on a romance with her handler, Jacob Golos, and together, they build the largest Soviet spy network in America. But when WWII ends and the U.S. becomes embroiled in the Cold War against the U.S.S.R, all Elizabeth holds to be true is called into question and she turns to the FBI for salvation.

Elizabeth is a skilled chameleon whose story changes depending on the circumstance, making her an effective spy but also an unreliable narrator, delivering a twisty, satisfying read. Extensively researched, Thornton’s novel explores the extraordinary life of a woman who has long been forgotten by history.

A MOST CLEVER GIRL is perfect for fans of Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network and Ericka Robuck’s The Invisible Woman.

Meet the Author: Stephanie Marie Thornton

I’m a writer and high school history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from history since I was twelve. My newest book, A Most Clever Girl: A Novel of an American Spy is a thrilling novel of love, loyalty, and espionage, based on the incredible true story of Elizabeth Bentley, a Cold War double agent spying for the Russians and the United States.

Prior to turning my attention to the Cold War, I wrote about two women closely connected to the White House. And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis is an intimate portrait of America’s most iconic First Lady while American Princess: A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt, tells the story of Theodore Roosevelt’s hellion of a daughter and how she became Washington’s Other Monument.

My first two novels, The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora and Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt reimagine the lives of two of history’s forgotten women: Theodora of the Byzantine Empire and Pharaoh Hatshepsut.

My third and fourth books center around the women who stood behind the greatest conquerors the world has ever seen. The Tiger Queens is the story of Genghis Khan’s wife and daughters, while The Conqueror’s Wife tells of the women who both loved and hated Alexander the Great. With my love of the ancient world, I also joined the H Team to help pen a collaborative novel, Song of War: A Novel of Troy in which I put a new spin on the story of Cassandra, King Priam’s cursed seer of a daughter.

I live with my husband and daughter in Alaska, where I’m always working on my next novel.

You can find me on Twitter as @StephMThornton and I’m also on GoodreadsFacebook, and Instagram.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. Doesn’t this sound like an intriguing bit of history that wasn’t taught when you or I were in school?

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Reaching for Family

Jenna learned early that family wasn’t safe. As Bloo Moose’s vet, she’s determined to find her patients loving homes even if she knows the same isn’t possible for her.

Noah Washington promised his adoptive parents he’d save their farm and now he’s bought almost all of it back. Only one acre to go but it belongs to a woman who makes his own guarded heart seem vulnerable. After a decade as an Army Ranger, Noah’s alpacas are supposed to ensure him of a peaceful life, but someone is targeting them. Or Jenna.

As the danger escalates, Jenna and Noah build a wary trust, but they’ll need to learn the true meaning of family if they want the farm—and themselves—to survive.

*** Reaching For Family is the 8th book in the Bloo Moose romantic suspense series. Each book can be read as a standalone. The book contains some strong language and sexy times.

Now my thoughts …...

When looking for a story with heart, romance, fun, and adventure look no further than REACHING FOR FAMILY, the eighth installment in the Bloo Moose series by author Jemi Fraser.

The story is set in the picturesque town of Bloo Moose, a community like one dreams of living in. The characters feel like family and friends. The adventure can be nail-biting occasionally and fun-loving the rest.

Combining suspense and romance, the author blends in humor for a well-rounded story. The attraction between Jenna and Noah is a bit steamy at times, while their storyline is also filled with laugh-out moments. Those moments involve an attack goose, an overprotect goat and a truck named Fred, just to name a few. The story flows smoothly and at a good pace holding your attention all the way.

If you’re a returning fan of the series, you’ll get to meet old friends and find a few new ones. Newcomers to the series can follow along easily without getting lost in back stories. But be warned, you could be drawn into wanting to find out all the townspeople’s’ stories. Throw in some Star Trek and Star Wars and you have an intriguing story you will find hard to put down.

The author has created a series with well-developed characters, a beautiful setting, and a plotline that will tug at your heartstrings while making you smile.

A side note ….

If you stopped by on Tuesday, you saw my concerns about writing a review. Well, this is the other book I was talking about. The review for REACHING FOR FAMILY should have been written much earlier. I just wasn’t sure I could do it justice either. Both are great books by two of my all-time favorite authors. I hope you’ll check out both.

Thanks for stopping by today. Okay, I gotta know are you like Jenna and name your vehicle? 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Renovated (+ Giveaway)


Renovated: A Workplace Romance
By Nikki Kiley
Publication date: August 5th, 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

They’ve been hired to remodel a mansion. Will they end up getting a room?

Marisa Sanchez has grand designs for her future. After taking over her grandfather’s construction firm, the successful vlogger and civil engineer is about to take the next step with a new show on the Home Design Network. But she’s not pleased to find out she can only have the lucrative gig if she agrees to work with a handsome rival.

Levi Chance takes the responsibility of providing for his brothers seriously. So when his biggest client asks him to come into the spotlight to co-host a new program, he reluctantly accepts. But he fears the pretty, camera-loving partner he’s been assigned might bring his top-notch reputation tumbling down if she can’t deliver the goods.

Discovering her teammate is quite capable, Marisa battles her attraction to him as she ambitiously turns the project upside down. And the more Levi works with the smart Latina, the more he worries he’s about to push the “no sex” morality clause in their contract into forbidden territory.

Will Marisa and Levi’s fixer-upper turn into a happily together forever?

Renovated is the charming first book in the moving Chance Brothers contemporary romance series. If you like sparkling attractions, comedic moments, and steamy action, then you’ll love Nikki Kiley’s well-built romp.

Goodreads / Amazon

Now here's an excerpt for your reading pleasure.

I first noticed him sitting in the truck when I looked out the kitchen window. Why the network wanted me to partner up with him was clear. He had that swagger down pat, and the testosterone oozed off him. He probably did great on camera.

Was I going to buy into this? It was the patriarchy hitting me in the proverbial balls again. If I wanted the project to go forward, I needed to partner with this man. But he was already questioning my work experience. What if we couldn’t get along and it was a shit show?

I needed control over my situation, and I had none. I didn’t want a partner. There was a tightness in my chest and unease in the pit of my stomach. “Rebecca, this isn’t what I signed up for.” I pointed to Levi and his blue eyes narrowed on me. “The premise was me being the lead, working with a client, presenting the finished product. I understood I was going to work with a crew to get the jobs done, but we never spoke about a partner. What is the new sales pitch for this program? Are we changing the target audience?”

Rebecca opened the binder and pointed to the document in front of her.

“Sorry, Marisa, what we proposed didn’t fly. We had a study done, and the results were quite clear, Gen-Z’ers might like posts and follow them, but those aren’t Home Network consumers. It’s just not our target audience.”

“Well then, why do you need her on the job as host?” Levi said.

“Did you just say that?” What an asshole. I had no desire to work with him either, if he dared to question why they were even considering me for the show.

Rebecca raised her hands, palms out. “Please stop before you both say something you’re going to regret. I’m here in person to tell you this and ask that you both consider this option of partnering. We have worked on previous home remodeling shows with Chance Construction. The camera loves him, his crew has experience working on projects for the network, and therefore, there’s no learning curve.” She turned in her seat, directing her words to him. “I know you work on the periphery of scenes and show up to tape when there are decisions to make with the clients on the show. Still, our female audience is crazy about you. Our numbers for those episodes when you appear go through the roof.”

To me, it was more than obvious why they wanted him. He seemed insulted and objectified but he didn’t say a word. I bit my lip and held in a laugh. Though I’d been furious at the curve ball Rebecca was throwing my way, listening to her explanation and observing his discomfort was comical. He obviously didn’t think this was as hilarious as I did.

His eyebrows furrowed. The lines around Levi’s eyes ran deep from having worked in the sun. His hands raked through his hair as he formulated an answer. “I need to think about this. I understand the opportunity you’re offering me. We always appreciate the work that the network throws our way. You pay well and on time, but this is a very different role from what I’ve done before.”

Rebecca’s back straightened, as she apparently had not expected this response from us.

Did she think I would do cartwheels over this proposal? It had been my opportunity to grow on a different platform, plus the money would help me buy Nana’s building from its current owner. I needed this deal. The gentrification happening in Little Havana was causing a lot of the small businesses to close shop. I didn’t want to see my grandmother’s heartbreak if she was forced to close after all these years.

I replied to Rebecca, but I fixed my eyes on Levi. “I’m not playing a couple on this show. I’m not an actor. We are professionals in our respective areas. I will not be part of a reality TV drama show. That’s not where I want my career to grow or my brand to be.”

Levi stood up and walked towards where I was seated. I sat back in my chair to look up at him, not comfortable that he was in my space. “This job is as important to me as it is to you. This is our bread and butter. My crew has the experience you lack working on a set, with the time constraints and strict timelines that television would require to get the jobs done.”

His lips twitched in a smirk. “You do not have to worry about there being drama or being unprofessional. The last thing I’m looking for is to hook up with my co-worker. This is a job like any other, and I don’t shit where I eat.”

Wow, crude.

“Plus, Marisa—if you don’t mind me calling you by your first name—I am not insulted by your questioning my skills as a general contractor. I have proven myself to the network and my clients for years. But how do I know you are not just a pretty face that knows how to market yourself? No insult intended.”

Who the hell did this guy think he was? “I was the one Rebecca approached from the very beginning. She brought it to my attention, and we have been in negotiations for months, so don’t discount me so fast.”

“That’s true. I saw an audience we could target and approached Marisa. Unfortunately, the head honchos have other ideas,” Rebecca said.

She stood up, placing her files in her tote, a signal that this meeting was over. “Anyway, I’ll have contracts sent to you both, with numbers, budgets, and the time frame we have to work within. For us, this is a ticking clock. Time is not our friend if we want the show to make the fall lineup. I plan to be hands on in production. It’s my baby as well.”

Wait, did I miss where we both agreed to take part in this?

Meet the Author: Nikki Kiley

Nikki Kiley is an aspiring author of Contemporary Romance. Since she was a young girl, she dreamt of writing stories that would entertain and move her readers, like she was and still is, by talented authors.

When not working the day job running a medical office, she spends hours crafting and writing stories about heroes and heroines earning their chance at love. She makes her home in Puerto Rico with her husband, two young adult children, and a gentle giant, the bull mastiff, Kira.

She loves the beach, her Nespresso maker, and cupcakes (S’more in particular).

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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