Monday, April 23, 2018

Happy World Book Day! Get 9 books for FREE!

Hello book worms and happy World Book Day! 

Looking for some amazing, diverse reads to celebrate this amazing day? Look no further! Click on the link below to download one or all of the Amazon Crossing selections right now! 

PS. The link is going to be working till April 24th midnight! US residents only.
This is a sponsored post. 

Available selections:

The book cover of A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa. Translated by Risa Kobayashi and Martin Brown. The cover shows a river of red barbed wire winding over a purple, topographical landscape.

Translated by Risa Kobayashi and Martin BrownThe heartrending true story of one man’s harrowing escape from the oppression of North Korea.

The book cover of The House by the River by Lena Manta. Translated by Gail Holst-Warhaft. The cover shows a house with an orange, tiled roof positioned on the shore of a shallow river with a mountain in the background.

Translated by Gail Holst-Warhaft
This bestselling novel follows five Greek sisters and the devoted mother who helped shape their lives.

The book cover of Still Waters by Viveca Sten. Translated by Marlaine Delargy. The cover shows a woman, backlit by the setting sun, looking out to sea while standing on the rocky and barren shore of a beach. A small white shack is in the background and a neon blue fishnet is in the foreground, slightly obscuring the title text.

Translated by Marlaine Delargy
When a body washes ashore on an idyllic Swedish island, it forever changes the lives of the island’s residents.

The book cover of The Great Passage by Shion Miura. Translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter. The cover shows layers of blue and white paper waves that are filled with undulating words. Cards containing the title words of the book pop out above the sea of words and a red sun emerges from the crest at the top of the cover.

Translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter
This award-winning novel is a reminder that a life dedicated to passion is a life well lived.

The book cover of Last Train to Istanbul by Ayşe Kulin. Translated by John W. Baker. The silhouette of a train track and a locomotive is cut from a painting of red floral. Through the silhouette is an image of World War II Paris, the Eiffel Tower centered in the frame, along the tracks.

Translated by John W. Baker
In this sweeping story of love, adventure, and compassion, a young Turkish couple traverses Nazi-occupied Europe to gain their freedom.

The book cover of The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan. Translated by Yuri Machkasov. A multi-tiered, gray house is planted on the stump of a large, uprooted tree, suspended in the blue sky among the cumuli.


Translated by Yuri Machkasov
An astounding tale of how what others understand as liabilities can be leveraged into strengths.

The book cover of The Question of Red by Laksmi Pamuntjak. Translated by the author. The cover shows a close-up image of a tropical, leafy plant on a khaki background that intrudes on the foreground, obscuring the plant and allowing room for the title.
Translated by the author
In this saga of love, revolution, and resilience, one woman must find the courage to forge her own path.

The book cover of The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen. Translated by Simon Bruni. The cover shows a firefly alit on a concrete wall, its blue paint cracked and peeling away.
Translated by Simon Bruni
In this haunting page-turner, a boy who lives underground will discover that light exists in even the darkest of places.

The book cover of Ten Women by Marcelo Serrano. Translated by Beth Fowler. The cover shows a painting of ten pink and white flowers in bloom. Additional green leaves and flower buds cling to the black background.
Translated by Beth Fowler
A group of women with divergent life stories bond over triumphs and heartaches in this beautiful tale about universal connections.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Balance by Lucia Franco (Excerpt)

Series:Off Balance (#1)
Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Publication Date:February 15, 2018
Pages:608 (paperback)
Published By:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Website:Lucia Franco

Balance on Goodreads

Where to get:


Adrianna Rossi is no stranger to the rigorous demands required of her body. Years of pain and determination make her one of the best. Olympic glory is the ultimate goal, and she'll do anything to achieve it. Even if that means leaving home to attend World Cup Academy of Gymnastics, a training center that serves one purpose--producing champions.

Perfection, precision, and dedication are required of his athletes. When two time Olympian Konstantin Kournakova is persuaded into training the young hopeful, he immediately regrets it. She doesn't come close to his high standards. As the relentless pursuit of her dream keeps her striving, a passion is ignited within him.

Kova's power and domination, coupled with Adrianna's fierce tenacity, reveal there is more for her body to learn. Every interaction can be misconstrued, but there's no mistaking the darkening of his gaze, the lingering of his touch, or the illicit image of his bare skin pressed against hers. Integrity is on the line. One toe off the beam and their forbidden desires could ruin everything they've worked for, throwing it all off balance.


The smell of chalk permeated the air and my stomach quivered at the first intake of the aroma into my lungs. It was a distinct scent, and taste, to a gymnast, practically part of our food groups, difficult to explain to anyone not involved in the sport. Similar to baby powder, but chalkier smelling. Muffled music blaring through the speakers, a spring board rebounding, and the sound of uneven bars ricocheting as they’re released, grabbed my attention. It was music to my ears. The kind of sound that got my adrenaline moving and my pulse thumping, beckoning me to drop everything and wrap my hands around the bars or feel the spring floor beneath my bare feet.
Taking another deep breath, I exhaled, unable to hide my splitting grin. My heart was ready to explode. Finally, I was where I was supposed to be.
Glancing around the empty lobby, I wasn't sure where to go, but the window to my right showed a view of the huge facility. It was completely deceiving from the outside...cue the anxiety. Intimidation definitely hit hard in that moment.
Gymnasts, both male and female, were scattered about, white chalk dusting their skin. I could see not just one, but two floors, three sets of uneven bars, and seven balance beams, along with two vaults. There was also a tumble track, various equipment for men, and a high bar with a foam pit and resi-mat, a huge mat on top of a foam pit used for practicing softer landings. Farther back were a bunch of doors. I had no idea what they were for, but I was curious to what they led to.
Even my parents seemed to be in awe of the gym, if their wide eyes were any indication. A shiver shot down my spine and goose bumps coated my arms in enthusiasm, as a rush of adrenaline began beating through my veins at the sight before me.
The sound of a slamming door from behind me shook me out of my trance, compelling me to look over my shoulder. My parents followed the sound and I spotted a tall, fit man. With his hands on his hips, his eyes surveyed the lobby and connected with my parents' before trailing down and locking with mine, his narrowing gaze holding me in place. All the air left my lungs. His powerful presence demanded attention, and without a doubt, he had all of mine.
Never in my life had I seen someone so unbelievably gorgeous. There was no other word I could use to describe him. His commanding eyes made me think it was possible he could be a coach, but no coach I'd ever seen had been so attractive. Come to think of it, none of them had ever been under the age of forty without a potbelly and receding hairline. This man was solidly built and full of muscle.
A silent breath escaped my lips as he stalked toward us with power and poise. My heart nearly hurdled into my throat as I stared like he was some sort of Adonis. Dark stubble dusted his square jaw, full lips that begged for attention, straight as an arrow nose. Combined with inky black hair and olive skin with golden undertones, sweet baby Jesus, the man was perfection.
Crossing the room, he extended a hand.
"Frank, it is good to see you again." His forearm flexed, the veins signifying the muscular strength he wielded. It was incredibly difficult to tear my eyes away as he gave my father a firm handshake. He was absolutely, drop-dead gorgeous. Avery would call him fucking hot. My best friend loved to add "fucking" to the beginning of everything.

This was my dad's friend, and he owned this place. Interesting. He looked like he was fresh out of college, no more than twenty-five max. Dad didn't have very many young friends I was aware of—I could count on one hand the friends I had met who were younger than him. They typically had graying hair, crow's feet, and overworked, aging skin. The complete opposite of what was standing right in front of me.

A competitive athlete for over ten years, Lucia Franco currently resides in sunny South Florida with her husband and two boys. Paranormal romance was her first love, but she has a soft spot in her heart for small-town and reunion romance stories.
When Lucia is not hard at work on her next novel, you can find her relaxing with her toes in the sand at a nearby beach.
Find out more about Lucia at Make sure to join her newsletter to receive exclusive updates and more!


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Put in Those Earbuds

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

My Favorite Podcasts
(Freebie Week)

Podcasts are great. They're great things to listen to when driving, cooking, cleaning, working, and getting ready in the mornings. They're also my go-to at work when I don't have a current Audiobook.

I've added and deleted podcasts for various reasons, but these are the eight I'm currently listening to. Some have been around since day one (My Favorite Murder and Professional Book Nerds) and some are new favorites (Tales and Female Criminals).

*Descriptions pulled from each podcast's website

Female Criminals

Category: Society & Culture
First Episode: "Cocaine Godmother" - Griselda Blanco (March 23, 2018)
Latest Episode: "Bonnie & Clyde" Pt. 2 - Bonnie Parker (April 11, 2018)
The true crime podcast where women aren’t just the victims. Every week, we examine the psychology, motivations, and atrocities of female felons. New episodes come out every Wednesday. Female Criminals is a production of Cutler Media and part of the Parcast Network. (Website)

Parcast has a great library of podcasts, but this is the newest one they've sucked me in to. Vanessa and Claire delve deep into the histories of well-known, and some not so well-known, female criminals. They're only six episodes in, but I can tell they're already enabling the true crime obsession within me. I loved their episodes on Bonnie Parker and I'm anxiously awaiting more episodes!

Haunted Places

Category: Arts
First Episode: The Cecil Hotel (October 12, 2017)
Latest Episode: Winchester Mystery House (April 12, 2018)
You’ve heard of haunted houses, haunted cemeteries, haunted islands...but do you know how a normal place can become a paranormal minefield? Every haunted place on earth has a frightening, real backstory. Greg (Co-Host of Serial Killers and Cults) takes you on an audio tour of a new haunted place, and it’s haunted history, every episode. Spooky legends, weird histories, and tales of the supernatural... Listen at your own risk. Haunted Places is a production of Cutler Media and part of the Parcast Network. New episodes released every Thursday. (Website)

Originally Haunted Places had new episodes every other Thursday, but grew so popular new episodes now come out every Thursday. Greg tells the history of these haunted places in a mixture of story telling and facts, which creates for an interesting listening experience. His voice also adds a creepy element to his narrative - in a good way! This is definitely more of a "listen during daylight hours" podcast.

My Favorite Murder

Category: Comedy
First Episode: My Firstest Murder (January 13, 2016)
Latest Episode: MFM Minisode 66 (April 16, 2018)
My Favorite Murder is the hit true crime comedy podcast hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. Since its inception in early 2016, the show has broken download records and sparked an enthusiastic, interactive “Murderino” fan base who came out in droves this spring for the sold-out nationwide tour.

A top 10 regular on iTunes’ comedy podcast chart, My Favorite Murder has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, The Atlantic, Nylon and Rolling Stone magazine. Aside from being avid true crime enthusiasts, Karen Kilgariff is a stand-up comedian and television writer and Georgia Hardstark is a writer and host for the Cooking Channel. (Website)

This is probably my favorite podcast on the list - so much for alphabetical order to avoid that. I have listened to My Favorite Murder since their day one. This podcast is not for everyone, but it is for a lot of people. I was lucky enough to see them when they most recently went on tour and it was so much better in person.

Karen and Georgia are not making light of murder, but are allowing us true crime buffs to know we are not alone. Listening to them feels like I'm sitting with two of my best friends and just talking . . . about murder. Their minisodes have turned from home town murder to just weird things that people have found, ghosts stories, and "I was almost murdered" stories. They end their episodes with positive things that have happened recently so you're not left completely bummed.

Professional Book Nerds

Category: Literature
First Episode: Jill, Emma, and Rachel K (OverDrive Chat - December 10, 2015)
Latest Episode: Tricia Levenseller, author of the Daughter of the Pirate King duology (Author Interview - April 16, 2018)
We're not just book nerds. We're professional book nerds! We are staff librarians who work at OverDrive, the leading app for eBooks and audiobooks from public libraries and schools. It's our job to discuss books all day long so we thought, "Why not share the conversation!" Hear about the best books we've read, get recommendations, and learn about the hottest books coming out that we can't wait to dive into. Titles discussed are available to borrow through public libraries. Get started reading at and subscribe to our podcast today! (Website)

Looking for a new read? Look no further than OverDrive's Professional Book Nerds. Adam and Jill post two episodes a week: an author interview and a themed episode with various colleagues. They have a wide variety of theme and authors, which is sure to provide a listening experience and to help that every growing TBR pile grow all the more.


Category: Arts
First Episode: Birth of a Beast (February 14, 2018) and Birth of a Beauty (February 14, 2018)
Latest Episode: Mulan (April 14, 2018)
You think you know the story…But do you really? Every other Saturday, Tales presents ancient fairy tales the way they were originally told: orally, and unadulterated. Tales is part of the Parcast Network and is a Cutler Media production. (Website)

A new addition to my list, also from the Parcast Network, Tales is all about the original fairy tales. Not the watered down for children versions, but the versions with sex, drugs, incest, murder, etc. (Vanessa warns to use caution with children under the age of 13.) I love hearing the original tales! Vanessa first dove in the Beauty and the Beast and I learned there is so much more to the tale than I had originally thought. If you're a big fan of fairy tales and myths, you definitely need to give Tales a listen.

The Dollop

Category: Comedy
First Episode: Cliven Bundy (April 25, 2014)
Latest Episode: Denis Kearney (April 16, 2018)
The Dollop is a bi-weekly* American History Podcast. Every week, Dave Anthony reads a story to his friend, Gareth Reynolds, who has no idea what the topic is going to be about.

(bi-weekly means whatever Dave wants it to mean) (Website)

I have learned a lot of America's history from Dave and Gareth. A lot. And not all of it is good. They delve into history of America in way you would never learn in school. They cover a range of topics from Harriet Tubman to the creation of Uber. It's definitely worth the listen, even if there are episodes that hurt your heart.

The History Chicks

Category: History
First Episode: Marie Antoinette (January 30, 2011)
Latest Episode: Louisa May Alcott (April 8, 2018)
You want the facts. Simple enough.

You want to know how the women are remembered, how their legacies live on and how you can learn more. We can do that!

You want a show that is interesting to adults, but appropriate if kids are in the room and listening. Gotcha.

And you like to get your information in a unique, smart, and conversational style. Done, done and done.

We are just like you. And you. (And even you-yeah, you- the one Googling our names.) We think that women, females, dames,…chicks in history is a perfect topic to sit down and chat about. We don’t claim to know it all, but really? All of it would take more time than any of us have right now. And it would be kinda boring.

In 2011 we sat down in front of a mic at a big dinner table in Beckett’s house (which we lovingly refer to as The House of Wood) and started talking. We’re still sitting at that very table and still talking.

We like to talk. A lot. (Website)

I love Beckett and Susan! Much like Karen and Georgia, listening to The History Chicks is just like sitting and chatting with some girlfriends. Only there's a lot less murder. Beckett and Susan do thorough research and each woman they discuss and pull from various sources, all of which they detail at the end. Not only do they speak on the woman in question, but briefly touch on her parents, their history, and the time period so there is a full understanding of they whys. I have a small love-hate relationship with the episodes that are broken up into two (or more!) parts because these woman all led such fascinating and interesting lives!

The Strange and Unusual

Category: History
First Episode: Speak of the Devil (December 31, 2016)
Latest Episode: The Affair of the Poisons, Part 1 (April 8, 2018)
The unknown. It lies at the root of all fear, and has inspired legends, superstition, folklore, customs, hysteria, and even murder throughout history. Still today we feel the shadowy presence of our ancestors' struggles to explain the mysterious in almost every facet of our lives. Whether it be in the form of religion, urban legends, pop culture, ghost stories, superstitious rituals, and so much more we are still just fighting to keep our monsters in the dark. Welcome to The Strange and Unusual Podcast. (Website)
Alyson doesn't release episodes as frequently as the podcasts mentioned above, but that doesn't make them any less interesting! The stories she tells are always interesting, fully of mystery and of course strange and unusual aspects. She's touched on exorcism, Jack the Ripper in America, Edgar Allan Poe, and more.

What are some of your favorite podcasts? Let me know in the comments below and I'll check them out!

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