Sunday Post – Life is a Garden

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at the @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See the rules here.

MY WEEK

It was a busy work week, but I’ve started reading several books for the August edition of Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society.

I also have been repotting my tomato seedlings. I started them in little pods under a grow light and I’m putting them in larger peat cups before they go into the ground at the end of May. The next step is to start placing them outside in partial shade so they can get used to being outside full time. My husband has the garden all tilled up and ready to go. I love the gardening cycle. Spring is for planting, Summer is for tending, Fall is for harvesting and canning, and in Winter we enjoy the fruits of our labor. I know it’s not as cut and dried as that, but it is a consistency that can be relied on. I have actually missed my tomato garden, so it will be nice to see it again! I’m also planting peppers and onions. I will be canning salsa from ingredients I grew myself.

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOG

Monday I reviewed A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice, a retelling of the sinking of the Titanic from the point of view of the Captain of the Carpathia, who led a rescue of many survivors.

On Monday I also reviewed The Salt Fields by Stacy D. Flood. This is a powerful book about a man who boards a train so he can leave the South behind. It is so well written that I had to include two quotes from the book itself in order to do it justice.

On Tuesday I reviewed the audiobook of The Wedding Season by Katy Birchall. This is a tale about a jilted bride that is both sad and laugh-out-loud funny. I have previously reviewed The Secret Bridesmaid by Birchall, and I love her writing style.

I also attempted Top Ten Tuesday and even though I got the directions wrong, I still enjoyed it.

Work and reading kept me busy until Saturday, and then I posted a review of The Coronation by Justin Newland for Self-Published Saturday.

NEXT WEEK ON THE BLOG

Today, besides the Sunday Post, I will be reviewing Freedom or Death, Book 4 of Adria Carmichael’s Juche Series, a coming-of-age dystopian saga set in a North Korean concentration camp.

Monday I will be reviewing The Adoption by Jenna Kernan as part of a blog tour for Bookouture. I had posted last week I would be reviewing it on Friday, but I had the date wrong. So look for it on Monday.

On Wednesday, I will review The Commandant’s Daughter, by Catherine Hokin. This is book one of the Hanni Winter series. I reviewed this book for the May edition of Historical Novels Review.

On Thursday, I will be posting a review of The Girl from Lamaha Steet, which is author Sharon Maas’s memoir about her childhood in Guyana and time spent in an English boarding school.

For Self-Published Saturday, I’ll be reviewing A Class Coveted by Susie Murphy.

THIS WEEK’S READING

I’m finishing up The Girl from Lamaha Street and starting A Class Coveted, mentioned above.

I will also be reading The Pilot’s Girl by Catherine Hokin, which is the sequel to The Commandant’s Daughter mentioned above. I will be reviewing The Pilot’s Girl for the August edition of Historical Novels Review.

Blog Tour and Book Review: A Catalogue of Catastrophe by Jodi Taylor–Historical Fiction Meets Science Fiction

BOOK DESCRIPTION


BOOK 13 IN THE INTERNATIONALLY BESTSELLING CHRONICLES OF ST MARY’S SERIES

For fans of Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club series, Jasper Fforde and Doctor Who.

Finally – finally! – Max has that nice office job she’s always wanted. The one with no heavy lifting and no one tries to kill her. Well, one out of two’s not bad…

Punching well above their weight, Max and Markham set out to bring down a sinister organisation founded in the future – with a suspicious focus on the past.

Max’s focus is staying alive long enough to reunite with Leon and Matthew, alternately helped and hindered by St Mary’s. Who aren’t always the blessing they like to think they are.

But non-stop leaping around the timeline – from witnessing Magna Carta to disturbing a certain young man with a penchant for gunpowder – is beginning to take its toll. Is Max going mad? Or are the ghosts of the past finally catching up with her?

What people are saying about Jodi Taylor:

Once in a while, I discover an author who changes everything… Jodi Taylor and her protagonista Madeleine “Max” Maxwell have seduced me’

‘This amazing series is anything but formulaic. Just when you think you’ve got to grips with everything, out comes the rug from under your feet’

‘Addictive. I wish St Mary’s was real and I was a part of it’

‘St Mary’s stories are the much-anticipated highlight of my year’

‘Jodi Taylor has an imagination that gets me completely hooked’

BOOK REVIEW

Another wonderful, action-packed trip through history with the crew of St. Mary’s, a group of historians who “investigate major historical events in contemporary time. DO NOT call it time travel.” This is Book 13, and Max, while still working as a “recovery agent” along with Markham, finds herself with a new office job. She is also fighting strange symptoms that have started to happen whenever she does a time jump. This is not a standalone and the reader will benefit from beginning with Book 1, Just One Damned Thing After Another, and reading the series in order.

Whenever another St. Mary’s book is available, I drop everything to read it. The cast of characters is fun-loving, witty, and smart, and they go through events that are sometimes hilarious, often dangerous, and occasionally tragic. And there are always fascinating history lessons. In this installment, we learn about the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 and the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. The past comes to vivid life, and our historians throw themselves right in the middle of it. Filled with humor, heartache, and history, this is a series that will leave you craving more. Fans will rejoice at this newest installment that heavily features Markham, a fan favorite. New readers of this series are advised to take a time jump to book one and start an adventure they will never forget. I envy those who get to read it for the first time. Whether it’s a laugh, a learning moment, or a punch in the gut, this series has everything.

I happily received a free print copy of this book from Headline via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jodi Taylor

Jodi Taylor is the author of the bestselling Chronicles of St Mary’s series, the story of a bunch of disaster-prone historians who investigate major historical events in contemporary time. Do NOT call it time travel!

Born in Bristol and educated in Gloucester (facts both cities vigorously deny), Jodi spent many years with her head somewhere else, much to the dismay of family, teachers, and employers, before finally deciding to put all that daydreaming to good use and pick up a pen. She still has no idea what she wants to do when she grows up.

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Self-Published Spotlight: Village Teacher by Nguyen Trong Hien (Neihtn) is #Free right now!

Self-Published Spotlight is my effort to help promote self-published books. Today Neihtn, who also writes as Nguyen Trong Hien, is in the Spotlight! The ebook of Village Teacher is FREE on Amazon from today until March 18th! Pick up your copy at the link below.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

At the end of the 19th century, during the early years of French colonization, a village teacher participates in the palace examinations in the imperial city of Hue, Vietnam. There he meets a young Vietnamese-French woman. Despite their attraction for each other, a series of trials and adversities challenge them both. Set against a well-detailed background of political intrigue and social prejudice, their love faces opposition from family and society, as people they never suspect as enemies threaten to put an end not only to their relationship but also to his life.

My 5-STAR review of Village Teacher is here.

PICK UP VILLAGE TEACHER FREE HERE

Again, the promotion lasts through March 18th.

Book Review: Under A Sky of Memories

This is another review I did for the February edition of Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. It is set during World War II, but has a take on it I haven’t seen before. There are so many books coming out that are set during World War II that I really look for unique perspectives before I decide to read them. This is based on a true story.

In 1943, three nurses from different backgrounds meet at training in Kentucky and become part of the 807th Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron, charged with transporting the wounded to safety during World War II. Evelyn has been caring for her father and sisters after the death of her mother and has finally left to make her own way in the world. Dot was jilted by her fiancé on the eve of her departure, but is still clinging to her engagement ring, afraid to admit the truth. Vita was born in high society and is used to the finer things, but left it all to pursue a different path. Together the three women face incredible danger when their transport plane crashes in Nazi-occupied Albania. Based on a true story, this historical thriller follows a group of nurses and medics, and their flight crew, as they attempt to survive in harsh conditions with the enemy in constant pursuit.

This is a thrilling novel full of suspense, intrigue, and romance. It is told from three points of view—Evelyn, Dot, and Vita—which is crucial in making a more compelling story. The three main characters are well-written and captivating, and the romances are engaging and believable for the circumstances. The true events, expertly woven together with fictional characters, make for a fascinating read. Descriptions of the harsh conditions and perilous journey make you feel as if you are there, and the author does not hold back on the agony, suffering, and physical toll of such a situation. This adds another layer of authenticity to this book. Under a Sky of Memories takes us through snowstorms, dangerous terrain, and bullet fire during a perilous attempt at survival, and throws in romance and heartache along the way. Highly recommended for fans of World War II fiction.

I received a free copy of this book from Lake Union Publishing via Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Soraya M. Lane graduated with a law degree before realizing that law wasn’t the career for her and that her future was in writing. She is the author of historical and contemporary women’s fiction, and her novel Wives of War was an Amazon Charts bestseller. Soraya lives on a small farm in her native New Zealand with her husband, their two young sons and a collection of four legged friends. When she’s not writing, she loves to be outside playing make-believe with her children or snuggled up inside reading.

SOCIAL MEDIA

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Amazon *Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read this book for free.

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Self-Published Saturday: Free Books!

Self-Published Saturday is my effort to help self-published and indie authors market their books. Marketing is possibly the most daunting effort that self-published authors face, and if I can help with that in even a small way, I am happy to do it.

Below are three books that you can pick up free today and they are all the beginnings of wonderful series’.

The Demon of Yodok by Adria Carmichael is the first book in a thrilling YA dystopian series, Juche, set in a concentration camp in North Korea. It is free today and tomorrow on Amazon, and you can pick it up here. My previous review of The Demon of Yodok is here.

PICK UP THE DEMON OF YODOK FREE TODAY

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

Just a reminder that Songbird by Gail Meath, the first book in the Jax Diamond Mysteries series, is free on ebook until March 14th. My review of Songbird is here.

PICK UP SONGBIRD FREE TODAY

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Daughter of Time by Sarah Woodbury is the first book in the After Climeri series, about a woman who goes back in time to medieval Wales. There are 20 books in the series. Sarah Woodbury is an amazing success story among self-published authors, having sold over a million books. She has written 40 novels, all independently published.

PICK UP DAUGHTER OF TIME FOR FREE

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Book Review: A More Perfect Union

The review below is one I did for Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. This book just ripped my heart out. I saw it was classified as a romance, but it’s way more than that. It’s richly layered, deeply personal, extremely important historical fiction. This was an editor’s choice in the February 2022 edition of Historical Novels Review.

Henry O’Toole escapes the Irish potato famine of 1848 and comes to America, unprepared for the hatred against the Irish that greets him in New York. Changing his name to Henry Taylor, he eventually becomes a traveling blacksmith in Virginia, where he meets Sarah, who is enslaved on the Jubilee plantation. When they fall in love, an uphill battle awaits them as interracial marriage is illegal and considered immoral at that time. Also on the plantation is the enslaved Maple, who is actually the half-sister of the mistress of the house. Maple has been forcibly separated from her husband and child in order to serve her sister. Based on the story of the author’s own great-great grandparents, this is a novel that will captivate, shock, and yes, enrage the reader.

What a stunning debut novel by Tammye Huf! The extreme injustice of the time is so well portrayed that it had me in tears. The beautiful love story of Henry and Sarah is made all the better knowing that this is based on a true story. The chapters are divided into multiple points of view, which makes for a compelling read. The author does not hold back in portraying the evil of one man owning another, and the depraved reality of the lashes, neck rings, slave markets, and chains is brought forth for all to see. The truth about the so-called respectable men and women of that era is sobering, but the lights of hope woven into this story are shown in Henry, Sarah, and others who are willing to take risks in order to help. A More Perfect Union is a love story, but also a shocking and heart-rending look at the realities of slavery. It is a must-read for those who want to know the truth about the pre-Civil War South.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tammye Huf

(In her own words) Originally from the east and west coast of the USA, I have lived in the UK with my husband and three kids for the last twenty years. I love nothing more than to immerse myself into new places and experiences, and I love the way that books allow me to do that, traveling the globe or even back in time with the turn of a page.

Since earning my BA from Wellesley College, I have been a teacher of various ages and abilities as well as a copywriter and a translator. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing my short stories published in several literary magazines and being named the third-place winner of the London Magazine Short Story Prize 2018. My debut novel, A More Perfect Union, was published in the UK in October 2020 with Myriad Editions and will be published in the USA in January 2022 with Grand Central Publishing. 

BUY LINKS

AMAZON
AMAZON UK
BARNES AND NOBLE
TARGET
APPLE BOOKS

The Last House on the Street

This is a dual timeline novel, set in Round Hill, North Carolina, in both 1965 and 2010. In 1965, Ellie has decided to volunteer for SCOPE (Summer Community Organization and Political Education), which organized students in an effort to help African Americans in the South register to vote. She expected her family to object, but was not prepared for the level of anger aimed her way. In 2010, Kayla has just lost her husband to a tragic accident and is in unbelievable pain, continuing their plans to move into their new house in Round Hill. Then strange things begin happening, and it appears that someone does not want her there.

I enjoyed the description of and research into events in 1965. I was impressed with the character development of Ellie and Win. However, the events occurring in the 2010 timeline were not fully realized. Although there was a surprise at the end, the plot wasn’t completely developed or resolved. So much could have been added to make this a complete novel, such as more representation of the African American community in the 2010 timeline. Also while I loved the 1965 Ellie for the most part, the 2010 version of Ellie was a real letdown.

I was surprised, as I have loved all of Diane Chamberlain’s books prior to this one.

I received a free copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Diane Chamberlain

Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and (London) Sunday Times best-selling author of 27 novels. The daughter of a school principal who supplied her with a new book almost daily, Diane quickly learned the emotional power of story. Although she wrote many small “books” as a child, she didn’t seriously turn to writing fiction until her early thirties when she was waiting for a delayed doctor’s appointment with nothing more than a pad, a pen, and an idea. She was instantly hooked.

Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and lived for many years in both San Diego and northern Virginia. She received her master’s degree in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, she was a hospital social worker in both San Diego and Washington, D.C, and a psychotherapist in private practice in Alexandria, Virginia, working primarily with adolescents.

More than two decades ago, Diane was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which changed the way she works: She wrote two novels using voice recognition software before new medication allowed her to get back to typing. She feels fortunate that her arthritis is not more severe and that she’s able to enjoy everyday activities as well as keep up with a busy travel schedule.

Diane lives in North Carolina with her significant other, photographer John Pagliuca, and their odd but lovable Shetland Sheepdog, Cole

WEBSITE

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My GoodReads Review (“Likes” Appreciated)

Blog Tour and Review: Death in the Last Reel

BOOK DESCRIPTION

‘Stop standing in the way of bullets.’

‘I will if you will.’

Does the camera ever lie?

1911: After the violent murder of three policemen in the line of duty, tensions between London constabulary and Whitechapel anarchists simmer. Meanwhile accusations and counter accusations of espionage further weaken relations between Germany and Britain. Can Margaret Demeray and Fox find out which potential enemy is behind a threat to the capital before it’s too late?

In the shadow of violence in the East End, just as Dr Margaret Demeray starts to gain recognition for her pathology work, a personal decision puts her career at the hospital under threat. Needing to explore alternative options, she tries working with another female doctor in Glassmakers Lane. But in that genteel street, a new moving-picture studio is the only thing of any interest, and Margaret’s boredom and frustration lead to an obsessive interest in the natural death of a young woman in a town far away.

Meanwhile intelligence agent Fox is trying to establish whether rumours of a major threat to London are linked to known anarchist gangs or someone outside Britain with a different agenda. When another mission fails and he asks Margaret to help find out who provided the false intelligence that led him in the wrong direction, she can’t wait to assist.

BUY LINKS

Amazon UK

Amazon US

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paula Harmon

Paula Harmon was born in North London to parents of English, Scottish and Irish descent. Perhaps feeling the need to add a Welsh connection, her father relocated the family every two years from country town to country town moving slowly westwards until they settled in South Wales when Paula was eight. She later graduated from Chichester University before making her home in Gloucestershire and then Dorset where she has lived since 2005. She is a civil servant, married with two adult children. Paula has several writing projects underway and wonders where the housework fairies are, because the house is a mess and she can’t think why.

BOOK REVIEW

This is a compelling mystery/thriller set in the United Kingdom in 1911, prior to Word War I. Margaret Demeray is a strong female protagonist–a pathologist who helps determine suspicious means of death. Intelligence Agent Fox is a spy, and the relationship between the two of them is full of sparks. The dialogue between our two protagonists is witty and fun, and they are not afraid of an argument. There are multiple storylines in this book, and they all progress well, with twists, turns, and surprises. The limits and constrictions put on women of that time are made evident. Real events from history are woven expertly into this story as the world appears about to begin The Great War. This is Book Two in the Margaret Demeray series, but can be read as a standalone.

Blog Tour & Interview: Songbird #AuthorInterview #GermanShepherds #HistoricalFiction

To celebrate the blog tour for Gail Meath’s Songbird, we sat down and talked about the book, the series to come, and the editing process, because I was fortunate enough to get to edit this book. And of course, we discuss Ace, the star German Shepherd. See our interview below.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Meet Jax Diamond, a sharp, sophisticated, skilled, no-nonsense private detective.  Or is he?  Glued to his side is his canine partner, Ace, a fierce and unrelenting German Shepherd whose mere presence terrorizes criminals into submission.  Well, maybe not.

But the two of them are a whole lot smarter than they look.  And they have their hands full when a playwright’s death is declared natural causes, and his new manuscript worth a million bucks is missing.

Laura Graystone, a beautiful rising Broadway star, is dragged into the heart of their investigation, and she’s none too happy about it.  Especially when danger first strikes, and she needs to rely on her own ingenuity to save their hides.

Join Jax, Laura and Ace on a fun yet deadly ride during the Roaring Twenties that takes twists and turns, and a race against time to find the real murderer before he/she/they stop them permanently.

INTERVIEW WITH GAIL MEATH

Gail Meath

What is unique about this stop on the book tour is that you and I know each other.  We became friends online, and then you gave me the opportunity to edit Songbird.  I thought the readers might want to know a little bit about what that was like.    

I had done reviews of your books, and we became friends.  I had nonfiction editing experience, but was looking for some experience editing fiction. I asked you if I could do some editing for you in order to get that experience, and you agreed. I had the privilege of editing Songbird.  It has been so enjoyable.   You definitely make the process easier because the copy you give me is very clean and I’m able to do more content editing.  You send me little research gems as well, which is very fun.  I truly enjoy working with you.   

Tell me how you feel about the editing process so far?

A good editor is worth their weight in gold to an author, and you have been a blessing to me, Bonnie.  Since we became friends first, working with you is so comfortable and fun!  From finding missed words to run-on or unclear sentences to overall content and help with research, especially, you make sure the manuscript isn’t just clean, it’s polished.  It never occurred to me that hamburgers weren’t a household staple in 1920s!   

Tell us about this series, the Jax Diamond series, and where you see it going?

Well, the first book, Songbird, was released this November.  It is set in 1923 in New York City on Broadway.  Jax Diamond is a private investigator and Ace is his German Shepherd sidekick.  The other main character,  Laura, is a Broadway actress and singer.   I am working on the second book, Framed, right now, and it is also set in New York City.  I have an idea for a third book that will take the characters to a small town temporarily.  There is also a prequel in the works that I will release at some point.  It is about how Jax and Ace met.

In the first book, we are of course introduced to Jax, Laura, and Ace.  You have told me that Ace was inspired by your own dog, who has since passed away.  Tell me about her.

Her name was Gretchen and she was the most amazing German Shepherd.  She actually belonged to someone else, and when I met her, we just hit it off right away.  She began to follow me as I was leaving and I just decided to buy her from her previous owners.  They were well paid, and I was rewarded even more by having this amazing friend in my life. She is truly missed.

Ace, though inspired by Gretchen, is a male shepherd.   Why did you make him a male instead of a female like Gretchen?

 I had already decided on the name Jax Diamond for the lead character in the book, and I wanted his dog to follow the playing card theme and be named Ace.  Ace sounded more like a male name to me at the time, so Ace is a boy.  But Gretchen is definitely the inspiration, and Ace has many of Gretchen’s unique traits. 

Tell me about the writing process.  You were sending me chapters to edit very quickly.  I couldn’t believe how fast Songbird was coming out.  From my perspective, you had it written in  no time.  Is this faster than normal for you?

Songbird is my first cozy mystery, and while it definitely needed research, I did not have to do as much as I have for my more in-depth historical fiction, such as Agustina De Aragon and Countess Jacqueline.  That did make the process go faster.

Your books are so well researched.  Is research your favorite part of the process?

Yes.  I love learning about different people, places, and events in history that I never knew about before.  That’s why I love writing about lesser-known heroines such as the heroine in Agustina de Aragon.

Longer version: I nearly failed history in high school, and I was a good student!  I started researching on my own and found history so fascinating! I determined it was the way the teacher taught it that didn’t hold my interest.  I’ve been researching ever since, just on my own.

Do you know how many books you want to write in the Jax Diamond series? 

I am not sure right now.  As I mentioned, in addition to Songbird, I have three more planned out, including the prequel novella, and the we’ll see what happens.

Do you know when the second book in the series, Framed, will be published?

I have the book release date as April 1 (April Fool’s Day), but I will probably release it sooner, in March of 2022.

Thanks so much, Gail, for taking the time out for this interview. 

FOLLOW GAIL ON SOCIAL MEDIA

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LINKS TO BUY SONGBIRD

AMAZON US

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LINKS TO ALL OF GAIL’S BOOKS

AMAZON US

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Self-Published Saturday: The Perfect Sister

Here is SP Saturday, a little late!

Self-Published Saturday is my effort to help Self-Published/Indie authors with marketing. These authors have to do it all, from cover design to editing to marketing. If I can help even a little bit with marketing, I’m happy to do it. This week’s feature is a The Perfect Sister, a murder mystery set in 1904.

BOOK REVIEW

The Perfect Sister is a well-written, intriguing, and engaging historical mystery set in 1904. Katherine, the “good” and “quiet” sister, has never felt good enough in her father’s eyes. When her “perfect sister,” Lorraine, is murdered, and she encounters Lorraine’s accused killer, Katherine begins to learn the truth.

This is a compelling murder mystery/thriller and historical love story. The characters are well written and I connected with them right away. Katherine and Michael capture the reader’s attention right away, and the villains in the story are perfectly loathsome. The mystery held my interest, and I enjoyed the growth that Katherine experienced.

I received a free copy of this book via BookSirens. My review is voluntary.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Award-winning author Gail Meath writes historical romance novels that will whisk you away to another time and place in history where you will meet fascinating characters, both fictional and real, who will capture your heart and soul. Meath loves writing about little or unknown people, places and events in history, rather than relying on the typical stories and settings.

Contact Gail Meath

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BUY LINKS

AMAZON US

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*If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books.  Some people feel very daunted by writing a review. Don’t worry. You do not have to write a masterpiece. Just a couple of lines about how the book made you feel will make the author’s day and help the book succeed. The more reviews a book has, the more Amazon will promote it.

*Please click on the “share” buttons below and share these books with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published authors go a long way!