2/22/18

AM13 Outbreak Series Spotlight & $10 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway


This morning, we are featuring the AM13 Outbreak series.  We have featured single books from this zombie / horror series from Samie Sands in the past--and have the first three books of the series in our spotlight this morning!  Check out the series and enter for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card in the book tour giveaway at the end of this post.
AM13 Outbreak Series:

Books 1-3
by Samie Sands
Genre: Zombie Horror


The deadly AM13 virus is taking over the world, creating hordes of zombies and turning the few survivors into the hunted…


Survivors can only watch humankind dwindle to extinction. 

They fight to protect their loved ones, to reach sanctuary, to keep their sanity as civilization is destroyed around them, never knowing if their next breath will be their last. 

Will the person they fought beside soon be a flesh-hungry corpse, or even worse, their own prey?

Read the bestselling series by author Samie Sands, now available in a complete box set!


Includes the following books!

Lockdown
AM13 Outbreak Book 1

Leah Watton’s practical joke has spiralled way out of control—all to impress a crush…

With a prank online video, Leah hopes to catch the attention of Jake Colton, a cute, blond-haired, blue-eyed co-worker she’s had a crush on for months. But instead of sending it to Jake, she manages to forward the clip to her boss—who buys every gory second.

When mass panic ensues, Leah learns the video is more than a staged act…

The government is calling the virus AM13. As the outbreak spreads, citizens are forced to stay indoors while they assess the gravity of the illness. Most people are quarantined in their homes, but Leah, Jake, and Leah’s best friend Michelle are some of the unlucky few who are stuck at work when the Lockdown occurs.

That’s where she first encounters one of the infected…

Aside from a contaminated woman devouring one of her co-workers, Leah has another problem. Does she do as she’s ordered and stay at work? Or should she disobey government orders and break free to reunite with her family?

She can’t go it alone—after all, Leah has none of the skills needed to survive—but with Michelle and Jake by her side, not even a contagious virus and a sea of the dead can keep her from…

Breaking out of the Lockdown…


Forgotten
AM13 Outbreak Book 2

Every attempt to contain the deadly AM13 virus has failed, leaving humanity on the brink of extinction…

The plague is spreading out of control with no cure in sight. Then the government announces its new plan—a sanctuary in an area completely untouched by the infected—as long as you can get there alive and unscathed.

Ethan Watton has managed to survive this long, even with OCD making every day more hellish than it already is…

Ethan’s obsessive-compulsive disorder dramatically affected his life before the infection began. Now he’s desperate to get as far away from the zombie virus as humanly possible. Isolated and afraid, Ethan thinks there is no way in hell he will survive the epidemic.

Alyssa Turner has spent her teenage years prepping for the undead to challenge her zombie killing skills…

Alyssa knows with absolute certainty that she will survive the AM13 virus. She’s read all the books, watched all the films, and done all the research. She’s strong, tough, and a self-proclaimed badass. Any group would be lucky to fight alongside her…until the unthinkable makes her doubt every skill she’s acquired.

Dr. Jones is a scientist who doesn’t understand why he was selected to produce a cure…

Surely there are survivors more experienced in virology than he is. And what will happen to him—and the rest of the species—if he fails? Is the fate of the human race really resting on his shoulders? Or are there others working toward the same goal?

With the zombies multiplying and survivors struggling to make it to the sanctuary, Ethan, Alyssa, and Dr. Jones fight to fulfill their destinies. If they fail, their fate is sealed, and they will join the millions of others who have been…
Forgotten.


Extinct
AM13 Outbreak Book 3

Writing books about the horrors of the zombie apocalypse is one thing—but Georgie Blake can’t believe it has become her reality…

She never expected her fictional stories of blood, death, and the consumption of human flesh to jump off the page into the real world. She certainly didn’t think she’d survive this long if they had. As a shy novelist, she was sure she’d be one of the first to die.

Safe in the Sanctuary, Georgie holds on to hope for a cure...

But that’s not all she holds on to. The government has promised the people of the Sanctuary that they can return home. The rumours are rife that there is an antidote on the horizon. But even if not, the infected are dying out, throwing the treacherous AM13 virus to the brink of extinction. If the infection dies out, this horrible nightmare Georgie is living in will be a distant memory.

Until everything that’s right goes terribly wrong...

Soon after meeting some new friends in the Sanctuary, Georgie learns she’s going to have to face the monsters outside the walls if she wants to return to her old life. But for a scared, introverted bookworm, it may be too much to consider...

Will Georgina conquer her fears of the dead to return home, or will she be one of the countless others who have gone Extinct?



**Only .99 cents!!**


Samie Sands is a 28 year old freelance graphic designer who has recently decided to follow her lifelong dream and use her creativity in a new way by writing.

She has a degree in Media Studies and PR and has already had articles published in a number of e-zines, including one of the most popular pieces at Zombie Guide Magazine. She has also had short stories included in a number of successful projects.

She lives in a small seaside town in the UK, but loves to travel to gain inspiration from new places and different cultures.




Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!




2/21/18

Wordless Wednesday Link Up and Blog Hop: Columbus Old Deaf School Park & Topiary Garden


My youngest daughter attends acting classes quite often in downtown Columbus & currently her classes are held an easy walk from one of my favorite parks:  The Columbus Old Deaf School Park and Topiary Garden.  I wanted to share some photos of the Topiary Garden as today's Wordless Wednesday blog hop!  Don't forget to share your latest Wordless (or not so wordless) posts in the link up at the end of this post!


The Old Deaf School


As you walk down the path toward the pond, you can see the re-purposed, remaining building of the Old Deaf School in the background.



The Topiary Garden
 
The garden itself is a topiary representation of Georges Seurat’s Post-Impressionist painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte.   Sources say that this garden is the only known topiary representation of a painting.   The garden contains 54 human figures, eight boats, three dogs, a monkey and a cat—each made of yew and the tallest standing at 12 feet. The scene also includes a man-made pond to represent the River Seine, with boat-shaped topiaries.


 The Topiary Garden changes with the seasons as various plants bloom at different times.  In the various photos, the framework for spring and summer foliage is visible during the winter months.


 The Old Deaf School Park holds a few tables and benches for visitors.

The Topiary Garden Museum Store
The museum store is open seasonally during limited hours.  I have not been to the park when the store has been open--but, hopefully, I can take a look inside this summer!

What Happened to the Old Deaf School?
 
The original school ground was left vacant in the 1940's when a new campus was built in another area of the city and the buildings and grounds suffered through decades of disrepair.  A fire damaged the structure significantly in the 1980's.  The only remaining structure from the original Deaf School has been rebuilt and repurposed and currently houses the Cristo Rey Columbus High School. 

You can learn more about the Old Deaf School and the Topiary Garden on The Topiary Park website.





2/20/18

The Company Files: The Good Man Book Review & Giveaway


This morning, I am pleased to share my review of The Good Man by Gabriel Valjan.  This novel begins The Company Files espionage, thriller series--and I looked forward to reaching it on my reading list as I enjoyed the books of  Valjan's Roma Series.  What did I think of The Good Man by Gabriel Valjan?  Be sure to enter for a chance to win a prize in the book tour giveaway at the end of this post.



Book Title: The Company Files: 1. The Good Man by Gabriel Valjan
Category: Adult Fiction, 251 pages
Genre: Thriller, Historical Fiction, Crime Fiction, Espionage
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author or publisher for use in this review.  All opinions are my own.

About the Book

In 1948, Vienna was divided among four powers: France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Jack Marshall had served with Walker during the war, and now, working together for The Company, they are tasked to do the inconceivable. Could former Nazis really be recruited to assist the U.S. in the atomic race? As their team moves forward, they quickly discover they are not the only ones looking for these men. And the others in the search may just have the objective of murder.

In this tale of historical noir, of corruption and deceit, no one is who they say they are. Who is The Good Man in a world where an enemy may be a friend, an ally may be the enemy, and governments deny everything?

My Review
Valjan orchestrates a complex, satisfying plot in The Good Man.  I love Gabriel Valjan's writing style.  His novels, including The Good Man, are not "light reading"--they are complicated with intricate plots, detailed settings, complex characters and enough twists keep the reader engaged to the end and ready to read the next book in the series.  The Good Man is not loaded with action-packed scenes or pages of dialogue.  Readers will find a slower plot--but, one filled with such attention to detail--that the novel becomes a page-turner nonetheless.  While the book isn't a light read and readers will require some focus at times; fans of post-war German history and world espionage or political thrillers will be intrigued by the storyline.

The Good Man characters maintain a bit of mystery.   When I read the Roma series, I wondered if had "missed" details about the characters and their backstories since I did not read the series in order.  Now that I have read the first book in this new series; I think Valjan writes with an air of mystery around his characters to keep them in character.  Readers know "what they need to know" for the book's storyline--but, also know that there are deeper, untold stories building these characters.   These more "shadowy" characters help keep readers guessing a bit about trust and motives and alliances. 

Would I recommend The Good Man by Gabriel Valjan?  If you enjoy spy/espionage/international thrillers with a slower pace--then I cannot recommend this book enough.  The Good Man requires a bit of focus and an interest in historical fiction and political thrillers.  Readers will not find heart-racing action on the pages--but, will find a very steadily moving novel with exceptionally well written and carefully developed plots, settings and characters.  The Company Files is another series that I will look forward to adding to my reading list as new novels are released. 

To read other reviews, please visit Gabriel Valjan's Page on iRead Book Tours.


Buy the Book





Meet the Author



Gabriel Valjan is the author of The Roma Series from Winter Goose Publishing. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he enjoys the local restaurants, and his two cats, Squeak and Squawk, keep him honest to the story on the screen.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest

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Ends March 10, 2018


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2/19/18

The Soul Mender Trilogy Book Spotlight & Swag Pack Giveaway


This morning, we are featuring an urban fantasy series in our book spotlight!  Check out the Soul Mender Trilogy, learn about the author & enter for a chance to win a swag pack in the book tour giveaway at the end of this post!

The Soul Mender
The Soul Mender Trilogy Book 1
by R.S. Dabney
Genre: Urban Fantasy

In a wild escape to avoid becoming the sixth victim of the elusive Rocky Mountain Murderer, twenty-two-year-old Riley Dale finds herself flung into a universe parallel to her own, where Las Vegas is known for its churches, terrorist attacks are initiated by the United States, and peace can be found in the darkest corners of the globe.


As the deadly visions that have haunted her since childhood become real, Riley is confronted with the implausible story of a world split in two and the stark contrast between good and evil in people she thought she knew. 

Racing deeper into the mystery of the new world, Riley discovers the explosive truth about her ancestors who have been hunted for thousands of years because of a single mistake made long ago. 

And now it’s her turn to pay for that blunder.

Pursued by both the government and a clandestine sect of assassins, Riley must ally with the only people in the parallel universe willing to keep her safe—the drug-addicted, prostituting other half of her soul, and the counter soul of a man who tortured and killed five young women.

Discover new worlds in this Kirkus Star Awarded (https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/rs-dabney/the-soul-mender/ ) book that is being called "not only highly entertaining, but profoundly edifying!"




The Peace Keeper
The Soul Mender Trilogy Book 2

Safe in her own world, Riley Dale should finally be able to put the horrifying experience in the parallel universe behind her. But as she processes recent events, business as usual is not an option. Her allies are still in big trouble.


To rescue her friends, Riley ventures back into the parallel world she had tried so hard to escape from. As her path winds through a maze of twisted history and familial legend, she finds herself blocked by both her attitude and insecurities, as well as by her enemies.

And those enemies are becoming desperate.

As each version of the world and her opponents grow more volatile, Riley must cast aside her own weakness and accept the mantle of Electa if she can ever hope to save humanity from a devastating end.




The World Binder
The Soul Mender Trilogy Book 3

Riley’s allies are scattered, broken, or dead. In one universe, an army stands ready to destroy the East. In the other, a biological weapon threatens to wipe out the West. Despite the looming devastation, she is no closer to restoring balance to humanity.


As Riley trains to use the ring her grandmother left her and works to find a way to bind the worlds, terrifying new visions plague her. Unearthed betrayals lead Riley to painful truths and hopeless revelations about those she thought she could trust.

Even about people she loves.

As her enemies circle and her friends falter, Riley must race to find answers lost to ancient memory in the sands surrounding what was once the Garden of Eden. Healing the world may demand she sacrifice all she holds dear—even her own chance to witness the peace she’s fought so hard for.




Debut author R.S. Dabney’s passion for reading, writing, and exploring thrilling stories about unlikely heroes conquering evil started at a young age, culminating in the completion of her first novel, The Soul Mender, book one in The Soul Mender Trilogy. Her favorite books span every genre and she likes to describe her own work as having something for everyone—a sprinkle of suspense, a dash of adventure, and a whole lot of good versus evil.


R.S. grew up running around the red rocks and ravines in the deserts of southern Utah, building forts, fighting battles, and living the lives of all the characters she and her friends created. An avid lover of all things nature and the outdoors, R.S. attended Texas A&M University where she majored in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and minored in Park and Natural Resource Management. She worked for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for three years before leaving to pursue her dream of writing a novel.

She currently lives in the Big Bend region of Texas with her husband, two dogs, and cat. When she isn’t lost in another dimension creating havoc for her characters and stories, she enjoys mountain biking, exploring the desert, and eating way too much Mexican food.






Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!






Brilliant Time-Saving Kitchen Tips For Busy Mamas


Keeping your kitchen spotless is tough enough when you are single or living with a partner. But once you throw kids into the mix, it’s almost impossible. You will spend endless hours in the kitchen, cooking, cleaning, and washing, and every second spent in the kitchen takes you away from your little ones, your job, and your free time. But it doesn’t have to be this way - and we’re going to take a look at some solutions right now.

source

A weekend’s work.
OK, so every good plan has to have a starting point. And in this case, it means decluttering your entire kitchen and starting again from scratch. Depending on the size of your kitchen, a day or two over the weekend is all you really need, so set aside some time, get out the cleaning equipment, and invest in a few tough plastic bags and durable boxes. The first task is to empty all your cupboards, drawers and remove everything from the surfaces of your units. Don’t forget your pantry, either. Next, arrange all your pots and pans, cutlery, and kitchen gadgets into different categories. You’ll need to create a category for regular use, medium use, and rarely used. Look through all your food, too, checking for anything that might have gone out of date and is taking up valuable space on the shelves.

A thorough clean.
You don’t have to give your kitchen a deep clean, but it is advisable. Let’s be honest - the kitchen is never this empty, so it’s an ideal opportunity, and getting down with the dirt now is going to save you plenty of time in the future. A little bit of elbow grease and some excellent cleaning products is all you need to turn your kitchen from a dingy nightmare into a super clean, good-as-new dream.

A minimal approach.
Next, if you want to save time in your kitchen, always think ‘minimal.’ This kind of thinking worlds in two ways. First of all, a minimal design - you can browse here for some inspiration - is super simple and quick to clean. And secondly, being minimal with your regular kitchen utensils will help you keep on top of the dishes. For example, by allotting each family member with a single cup, player, bowl, knife, fork, etc., there are fewer things to get dirty. Obviously, this will cut down on your cleaning time by a significant amount and stop dishes piling up by the side of the sink. Everything else? Well, kitchen and dining equipment that is only used every now and again or when guests come round can be stored well out of the way, saving you the time you normally spend scrabbling around cupboards for items you use every day.

Sensible pantry stacking.
If you have a pantry - or cupboards - for your food, make sure that you create some kind of order for them. Small storage boxes are ideal for grouping similar products together - your herbs in one, pasta in another, baking products in another, for example. Again, any products you use daily or weekly should be within easy reach, while anything that doesn’t get used a lot should be well out of the way at the back of your cupboards. Finally, it’s also a good idea to create a list of everything you need to keep in the pantry. A good, updated list will mean you won’t have to look through your cupboards every time you need to go shopping - and it’s the same principle for the fridge and freezer.


source

Fridge and freezer tracking.
How many times have you been looking for frozen produce, only to discover after 5-10 minutes of searching that you have actually run out? Keeping a list of items in your fridge and freezer is a sensible, time-saving solution to ensure you never waste a second looking for something that isn’t there. Not only that, but you will also save a little money on your energy bills. Every time you open the fridge or freezer, the device has to work a lot harder to keep it cool. It might not be much, but when you consider how many times you would normally search for freezer items over the course of a year, it’s a lot more than you might think.

A kid-friendly kitchen.
Lots of parents are scared stiff of their kids playing with cooking gear in the kitchen, and, therefore, spend a huge amount of time ensuring the little ones are safe. However, with a little clever thinking, you can save a considerable amount of time. Make sure that all your dangerous equipment - mixers, chopper, kettles and sharp knives - are stored well out of harm’s way. Once that is done, you’ll find that you are much more relaxed about your kids being in the kitchen, and as a result, you will work faster.

Sunday cook-offs.
In households all over the country, both parents have to work to earn the money that helps them make ends meet. And often, this results in a rather haphazard approach to meals, particularly throughout the week. So, if you want to free up as much time as possible - and still provide healthy meals for your kids - you’ll need to do some planning. The weekends are ideal for making a meal schedule for the rest of the week, and you can easily batch cook a few options, split them up into portions, and freeze the rest for a later date. It’s a lot cheaper to cook in big batches, too - just make sure you bag and date all products to be frozen and consume it before that date runs out.

As you can see, there is plenty you can do to free up time in the kitchen when you are a busy parent. Life can be tough when you are juggling running a home with childcare and, perhaps, a job. And the reality is that the kitchen is often the biggest time drain. If you have any further ideas on how to save time in the kitchen, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Golden Gremlin Book Review & Giveaway


Sometimes, a little sarcastic humor is just what I need on my reading list to lighten my day.  Today, I am sharing my review of Golden Gremlin, a humorous book of essays on life (from a geezer-ish, misanthropic viewpoint).  What did I think of Golden Gremlin?  Check out my review & enter to win a prize in the book tour giveaway at the end of this post.


Book Title: Golden Gremlin: A Vigorous Push from Misanthropes and Geezers
Author: Rod A. Walters
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 228 pages
Genre: Humor
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author or publisher for use in my review.  All opinions are my own.

About the Book

Written to make Dave Barry, Lily Tomlin, and Ben Stein laugh, Golden Gremlin: A Vigorous Push from Misanthropes and Geezers delivers the experience of a balanced life, and the wisdom to like most of it, and then laugh at the rest of it. What the heck, Barry lives in Miami, habitat of geezers, and Ben Stein is one. The world really needs that push, vigorous or gentle, from misanthropes & geezers, the world’s most valuable golden gremlins. Misanthropes pretend to not like or need other people, but in reality, they merely prefer their own company much of the time. Geezers, aside from that silly name, also like their own company quite well. Both share the virtue of seeing the world calmly. You get pointy bite-sized life pointers from these experienced gremlins, told in easy bite-size chunks. Laughter included in the price! Two out of three wouldn’t be bad either.
Life is good! So laugh a little at yourself on the way through these pointy essays, and that will buy your laughing at the world’s simpler parts, guilt-free.

Golden Gremlin comprises about 70 short essays bundled into six topic areas:

NATURE: boys, ugly drivers, and coffee cups in the ‘fridge.
WORDS: the real meaning of Caucasian and Genre.
BUSINESS: deafness at the economics conference, and getting on AssBook.
KITCHENS: sushi chefs, and truth about manna.
HISTORY: when Hell froze, and Attila the Honey.

Golden boy gets to be GOLDEN GREMLIN: experience overcomes certainty.
What things could possibly be more important!

My Review

The author offers quick thoughts on common daily activities.  While the author does not truly hate people and all human interraction--he does seem to enjoy analyzing them, critiquing them and criticizing them.  From annoying drivers to the environment to cell phones and more--the author shares some thoughts, tips and suggestions for the rest of us dealing with daily happenings and "annoyances".  Most of these essays will bring a smile and a sense of recognition (we have all had these things happen or know a person exactly the one(s) depicted in the author's essays!

The author's writing style and storytelling technique are a bit unique.  The essays are based on life experiences and the author's reflections on those.  Initially, I wasn't quite sure just what the book was about as a whole.  I required a few essays to settle into the author's thought processes and writing style.   Some people may not understand the author's intentions in every essay--and may not necessarily have the life experiences to relate to some of them.  Readers should expect to read slightly grumpy, sarcastic, pessimistic takes on life and our fellow humans--from an older adult.

The essays do not need to be read in one sitting.  The book is a quick, easy read and could certainly be read in a short sitting--but, the essays do not build upon one another.  I found it enjoyable to read a few of the essays every day in a few minutes of downtime or before bed or randomly choose one from different spots in the book. 

Would I recommend Golden Gremlin by Rod A. Walters?  I found humor in the author's thoughts and reflections at times.  Sometimes, there were a dots of wisdom to gain and reflect upon for the reader.  If you have ever been known to mutter, "I hate people" as you struggle through a crowded mall or battle fellow drivers on the freeway--this may be the book for you.  I enjoyed the book--but, I do think you need a special, darker sense of humor to appreciate it all. 

To read other reviews, please visit Rod A Walters' page on iRead Book Tours.


Buy the Book:




About the Author:



Rod Walters lives and writes in upstate New York to prove he can be an all-season writer. Since he wants everybody to be all-season persons no matter her or his circumstance, his writing aims sharply toward the practical—without turning into one of those godawful do it ma’ way authors. Life, after all, is practical hour by hour. Self-described as “old enough to know better, and he probably is,” his former life as Army officer, engineer, and administrative assistant could not have better prepared him to write both light and more serious short pieces pointing to creating a balanced life. Chuckling at yourself usually makes a good takeoff, he says. Giving up having to be certain makes for a good landing, especially for one’s friends! Then again, who the heck wants to live a balanced life? Mostly everybody does. That’s why he now writes. Although many friends nudge and badger him to be a Facebook and Twitter butterfly, he tries not to spend many numbing hours a day with circular keyboard tapping. Writing works better.

Connect with the Author: Website

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Ends March 3, 2018



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