Sunday, July 31, 2022

Book Review: The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon

Title: The Children on the Hill
Publication Date: April 26th 2022
Print Length: 352 pages
Genre: Thriller
A genre-defying new novel, inspired by Mary Shelley’s masterpiece Frankenstein, which brilliantly explores the eerie mysteries of childhood and the evils perpetrated by the monsters among us.

1978: at her renowned treatment center in picturesque Vermont, the brilliant psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Hildreth, is acclaimed for her compassionate work with the mentally ill. But when she's home with her cherished grandchildren, Vi and Eric, she’s just Gran—teaching them how to take care of their pets, preparing them home-cooked meals, providing them with care and attention and love.

Then one day Gran brings home a child to stay with the family. Iris—silent, hollow-eyed, skittish, and feral—does not behave like a normal girl.

Still, Violet is thrilled to have a new playmate. She and Eric invite Iris to join their Monster Club, where they catalogue all kinds of monsters and dream up ways to defeat them. Before long, Iris begins to come out of her shell. She and Vi and Eric do everything together: ride their bicycles, go to the drive-in, meet at their clubhouse in secret to hunt monsters. Because, as Vi explains, monsters are everywhere.

2019: Lizzy Shelley, the host of the popular podcast Monsters Among Us, is traveling to Vermont, where a young girl has been abducted, and a monster sighting has the town in an uproar. She’s determined to hunt it down, because Lizzy knows better than anyone that monsters are real—and one of them is her very own sister.

The Children on the Hill takes us on a breathless journey to face the primal fears that lurk within us all.

I read Jennifer McMahon's book The Invited and liked it, so when I read the synopsis for her new book, The Children on the Hill, I was well intrigued. I decided to give it a read and ended up liking it.

The plot of The Children on the Hill definitely piqued my interest. The book switches between two different years. I was drawn into each time frame. I felt like I was right beside each narrator as their story was being told. Most of the story takes place in Vermont, and I felt that through McMahon's writing, I was transported to each location in Vermont. I was interested in Vi's and Eric's monsters. I also was rooting for Vi to solve Lily's mystery of where she came from. I wanted to know what Gran's secret was for being super successful. I had to know more. This book left no cliff hangars, and I was glad that all my questions were answered. I would have liked to know more about certain characters such as where they came from, but I understand why the author didn't include it in the book. There are a couple of big plot twists in The Children on the Hill. I guessed one right before it was mentioned, but I really didn't see the other one coming. (Kudos to Jennifer McMahon on that!) As for the pacing, there were times that it slowed down to the point where I would get a little bored and take a break. However, the pacing would quickly pick back up. In the last quarter or so of the book, the pacing is done brilliantly, and I didn't want to put the book down at all!

I enjoyed the characters from The Children on the Hill. McMahon did a fabulous job with making each and every character feel realistic instead of make believe. Violet was such a vibrant child, and I enjoyed reading about her quest for knowledge no matter the cost. She was definitely quite the detective! Lily was an enigma that I couldn't figure out at first, but I really liked reading about her. It was interesting to watch her grow each day around Vi and Eric. Lizzy was also a likeable character, and I admired how determined she was to find her sister and solve the mysteries of the missing girls. Gran/Dr. Hildreth came across as a sweet old woman, but I always suspected she was up to something. I had my reservations about her, so I enjoyed reading to find out if my suspicions were correct. McMahon did an excellent job presenting Gran/Dr. Hildreth as a sweet grandmotherly type to Eric and Vi.

Trigger warnings for The Children on the Hill include some profanity, murder, violence, torture, kidnapping, and gaslighting.

All in all, The Children on the Hill is a book with a solid plot featuring a small cast of characters that are interesting to read about and how far they'll go for their cause. The plot will leave you guessing as you try to make it all make sense (though everything will be explained by the end of the book). I would absolutely recommend The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon to those aged 17+ who love trying to figure out a thrilling mystery. This is one book you'll definitely want to pick up!

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Book Blog Tour and Giveaway: Paper Targets by Patricia Watts

Welcome to my stop on the book blog tour for Paper Targets by Patricia Watts. This blog tour was organized by Lone Star Book Blog Tours. On my stop, I am spotlighting the book. I also have the playlist for the book as well as the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win some fantastic books! Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: Paper Targets
Author: Patricia Watts
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: May 3rd 2022
Print Length: 324 pages
Genre: Contemporary Suspense
Everyone knew that Roanne never got angry—until the night she killed her ex-husband and herself.

Roanne, a nice, suburban lady in her sixties who works at a Hallmark shop and volunteers at the Food Bank in Round Rock, Texas, calls her lifelong friend, Connie, confesses to murder, then puts the gun to her own head. Connie, spurred by Roanne’s last words about a lifetime of unspoken rage, sets aside her work as a cozy mystery writer and cupcake shop owner to confront the men who have stolen her dignity while she remained silent, including a bully brother, a rapist, and an ex-spouse. On a journey to reclaim her inner power and to make peace with the loss of her treasured friend, Connie’s mission is to avoid the same tragic path as Roanne, but she takes along a gun, just in case.

With pathos and humor, Paper Targets, by Patricia Watts, calls us to speak our own narratives, even when it is uncomfortable or risky, and shows us the magnificence of a friendship that transcends time.


1. Sugar, Sugar — The Archies.
1969: Roanne pairs up with an uncool dude at a high school dance, but at least she’s not stuck on the sidelines like Connie.

2. That Would Be Something — Paul McCartney.
1970: Connie has issues with her mom and brother, but she and Roanne find some sanctuary with M&Ms, Oreos, and a new LP.

3. Unforgettable — Nat King Cole.
1976: Roanne discovers her mother’s vivacious past in the midst of her family’s grief.

4. Whiskey River — Willie Nelson.
1975: Connie and Scott danced to the same tune when they met on a blind date at a concert in an Austin park.

5. We Will Rock You — Queen.
1977: Connie and Roanne rock out in more ways than one on their last girls’ night out before Roanne marries Johnny.

6. Purple Haze — Jimi Hendrix.
1978: Connie adjusts to married life: a new last name, Scott’s rock and blues records, and motorcycle parts in the spare bedroom.

7. Boot Scootin’ Boogie — Brooks & Dunn.
1995: Over the years, marriage and relocations separate Connie and Roanne, but in an hour of need, they reunite at a country-western dive.

8. God’s Plan — Drake.
2019: Roanne’s daughter, Zoe, and Connie’s son, Daniel, embark on a journey of recovery with traveling music and Uno cards.

9. Love Shack — B52s.
2008: The dating scene in later life is a minefield or a wasteland with a karaoke soundtrack as Connie plays wingman for Roanne.

10. Formation — BeyoncĂ©.
2019: Connie, the cozy mystery writer, stretches outside her genre when she invents a character who is part of the Beyhive.
Patricia Watts worked as a journalist for more than 20 years for newspapers in Texas, Hawaii, and Alaska. Following her news career, she tried her skill as a paralegal and then spent ten years investigating discrimination cases for the Alaska Human Rights Commission. Her novels include: Ghost Light and The Big Empty, crime mysteries co-written with Alaska author Stan Jones; The Frayer, suspense noir; and Watchdogs, a steamy thriller. Her home base is San Diego. She earned her B.A. in journalism at Humboldt State in California. She is the mother of a son and daughter and has eight grandchildren.

One Winner: Autographed copies of Paper Targets by Patricia Watts, The Frayer by Patricia Watts, and The Big Empty by Stan Jones and Patricia Watts
One Winner: Print copy of Paper Targets by Patricia Watts
(US only)

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prizes. The author, Patricia Watts, assumes all responsibility over this giveaway.)

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: Unbreakable (The Deception Game #4) by Kristin Smith

Title: Unbreakable
Series: The Deception Game #4
Author: Kristin Smith
Publisher: Feather & Ink Publishing
Publication Date: July 26th 2022
Print Length: 388 pages
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian Science Fiction

From best-selling and award-winning author Kristin Smith comes the riveting fourth and final book in the Deception Game series.

A terrible discovery that will change everything.

Armed with valuable information, Sienna and her friends find asylum in the east coast province of Pride. While initially grateful for Pride’s open arms, they begin to question exactly what kind of loyalties its president is after. Sienna must grapple with her new condition, Trey has to figure out how to win a war without losing Sienna, and Zane needs to recreate a gene regeneration therapy to cure Sienna without knowing if he’ll ever win her heart. When they learn Trina survived the Zenith Camp bombing, they also discover she’s been living a nightmare.

In the end, Sienna and her friends must somehow come together and fight a war for a government they aren’t sure they can trust.

Goodreads * Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Kobo


Mach 3 is the type of plane I’d like to own someday. Sure, it’s cool that it’s outfitted in the latest technology, and it comfortably seats way more than we need. But that’s not what makes it ridiculously amazing. It’s the fact it literally travels at Mach 3. Which means we’ll go from one coast to another in less than an hour.

Yeah, I need to get one of these. Maybe in another life.

As I settle into the leather seat next to Chaz and across from Trina and Grey, I note how this mode of transportation is a far cry from the aerodyne—er, airplane—that brought us to Old Richmond.

A woman in a striped dress that shows off a lot of leg pauses at my seat and offers me a drink. I decline. I’m not used to having someone wait on me hand and foot. I don’t do so well with luxury and expense and all of that crap. Give me a tent and a sleeping bag, and I’m good to go.

I can tell Nash feels the same. He sits on the edge of his seat like he’s afraid he might soil it. I choke back a laugh as the woman—who has introduced herself as the flight attendant for our flight—hands him a wet towel. Nash looks at it, not quite sure what to do. I have no idea, either. But Grey has been around a lot more than we have and knows immediately.

“You use it to wipe your face or hands,” he whispers, leaning across the aisle.

Nash wipes his hands and then chucks it on the ground. The flight attendant walks past and picks it up without saying a word. Geez. She probably thinks we’re barbarians. Grey shakes his head and quirks a smile at Trina, who is watching with wide eyes.

Okay, yeah. We’re an embarrassment. But who cares? We have more important things to worry about.

My fists clench as I think of Sienna and Zane in enemy territory. What the hell was he thinking taking her there? I get that he wants to fix her. I get that he wants to be the one to figure out a way to make her walk again. But to take her back to Rubex, where she’s a wanted fugitive, was asinine. He wasn’t thinking of her; he was thinking of himself.

I feel helpless knowing she’s so far away, that I’m not there if she needs me. There are a million things that could go wrong. And if something happens to her…

I swear, I’ll never forgive Zane.

Kristin Smith is the best-selling and award-winning author of the DECEPTION GAME series. Her first book, CATALYST, is a 2018 IAN Book of the Year Award finalist in the Young Adult category.

A graduate of Brigham Young University, Kristin currently resides in North Carolina with her husband and five sons.

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Friday, July 29, 2022

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: Irresistible (The Phoenix Club #6) by Darcy Burke

Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for Irresistible by Darcy Burke. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as a fun interview with the author. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: Irresistible
Series: The Phoenix Club #6
Author: Darcy Burke
Publisher: Zealous Quill Press
Publication Date: July 19th 2022
Print Length: 344 pages
Genre: Regency Historical Romance
Jessamine Goodfellow has spent six Seasons avoiding the parson’s trap, and spinsterhood is finally within her grasp. A brilliant scholar, she longs for adventure and new experiences, things her family frowns upon. Presented with the opportunity to use her puzzle-solving talent on a secret mission for the Foreign Office, Jess eagerly accepts. Even when it means posing as the wife of a scorchingly attractive Scotsman who she must also covertly investigate as a possible double agent.

Lord Dougal MacNair, the new Viscount Fallin, has always completed his assignments for the Foreign Office alone. Now he’s saddled with an overly enthusiastic amateur partner. She possesses a remarkable intellect, but something about her isn’t quite right, and after two failed missions, Dougal is certain someone is working against him. Battling their secret suspicions, Dougal and Jess dive deep into their cover as a married couple, which arouses temptations they find irresistible. Danger is all around them, but it’s their hearts that may be the most imperiled.

“Tell me why I’ve hurried back.”

“A mission to the Dorset coast. You leave in a week.”

Dougal frowned. “If I don’t leave for a week, why am I here now?”

Lucien hesitated the barest moment. “Because you need time to prepare with your partner.”

“My what?”

Voices in the hall interrupted further conversation because a moment later, Lucien’s butler announced the arrival of Lady Pickering and Miss Jessamine Goodfellow. Dougal was very familiar with Lady Pickering, but the other white woman was unknown to him. Taller than most ladies, Miss Goodfellow possessed vivid cobalt eyes that assessed him with a keen curiosity. Indeed, her unabashed attention could only mean one thing—that she was to be his partner.

Lady Pickering moved her vigilant gaze toward him. “I’m pleased you could arrive so quickly, Lord Fallin. I do apologize that you were called away at this time.”

Dougal inclined his head. “I am always eager to serve.”

“One of your best qualities.” Lady Pickering turned slightly toward the young lady. “Jessamine, this is Lord Fallin.” Lady Pickering then looked to Dougal. “Allow me to present Miss Jessamine Goodfellow. She will be your wife on this endeavor.”

“My what?” First, he had a partner, and now he had a wife?
Darcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of sexy, emotional historical and contemporary romance. Darcy wrote her first book at age 11, a happily ever after about a swan addicted to magic and the female swan who loved him, with exceedingly poor illustrations.

A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, artist daughter, and imaginative son who will almost certainly out-write her one day (that may be tomorrow).

They’re a crazy cat family with two Bengal cats, a small, fame-seeking cat named after a fruit, an older rescue Maine Coon with attitude to spare, and a collection of neighbor cats who hang out on the deck and occasionally venture inside. You can find Darcy at a winery, in her comfy writing chair, or binge-watching TV with the family.

Her happy places are Disneyland, Labor Day weekend at the Gorge, Denmark, and anywhere in the UK—so long as her family is there too.

- Have you ever had an imaginary friend?

Yes! I had a friend called Nameo (Name-oh). They (I think it was a girl, but I honestly think they were somewhat genderless) had a sister named Maria and a brother named Tom-Tom. I think. I know there was a brother, but that may not be the right name. I probably have this written down somewhere. Geez, I’m a writer, you’d think I would!

- Do you have any phobias?

Heights (really, falling) is the big one. Hard pass on anything to do with that. I don’t even particularly care for open stairs. Probably spiders, but I have been trying to train myself to think of them as cute. Most of them are not, lol. I don’t like killing them though.

- Do you listen to music when you're writing?

Often. And when I don’t and the writing is slow, I will later think, “Why wasn’t I listening to music?!” Many of my books have playlists I created just for writing that book. I haven’t done that in a while and probably should.

- Do you ever read your stories out loud?

Hardly ever.

- Tell us about your main character and who inspired him/her.

Honestly, my characters are rarely ever inspired by anyone. My hero, Dougal, comes from a close-knit family and has a strong sense of honor and loyalty. He works for the Foreign Office and is dedicated to serving the crown. He’s spent the last several years disguising himself for his work and really burying his emotions and his true self. Now that he must leave espionage and look to being the earl some day, he has to reevaluate who he is.

My heroine, Jessamine, comes from a family who hasn’t allowed her to pursue what she wants. After paying off the man she wanted to marry (a, gasp, American!), they try to marry her off to suit their purposes, not hers. She longs for independence and adventure—to get away from her mundane life. The opportunity to work for the Foreign Office gives her just that, but will it last and can she forge a future doing that?
Darcy Burke will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to one randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Good luck!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Goddess Fish Promotions and the author assume all responsibility over this giveaway.)

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Virtual Book Tour: Dead Blood City (Saoirse Reilly #1) by Jo Denning

Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for Dead Blood City by Jo Denning. This book tour was organized by Pump Up Your Book. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: Dead Blood City
Series: Saoirse Reilly #1
Author: Jo Denning
Publisher: Leabhar & Fola Publishing House
Publication Date: March 6th 2022
Print Length: 333 pages
Genre: Urban Fantasy Crime Thriller
Drowning might be like going to sleep. It would be nice to sleep forever - leave everything behind in the waking world.

Detective Saoirse Reilly commits to finding a missing child before dying by suicide. While investigating the kidnapping of Delaney Bascom, she is snared in the supernatural underbelly of Boston, Massachusetts. She will have to face her demons if she hopes to bring the girl home.

Reilly has the dubious support of Emrys Somerled, a forensic psychologist with a cellar full of secrets, and Domenico Alderisi, an impossibly youthful club owner with a bad habit. Meet these suspicious characters and more alongside Reilly as she begins to see the world for what it really is.

The blood moon is coming.

Will Reilly save the girl and find a reason to live?

“I’m sorry, Ma’am. Ma’am, you can’t go in there!” Finn’s alarmed voice jarred me out of the vision.

She pushed past him before I could make it to the door. I recognized her instantly. “Mrs. Bascom, you can’t be here,” I said as we collided.

“Where is my daughter? You are gonna let me in my own house or-” Delaney’s mother went silent when she saw it.

The blood.

We were close enough that I felt her sharp inhale. I felt more than that as she collapsed against me. Her pure horror bled into me. Cold sweat dampened my skin. My heart pounded faster and faster. I couldn’t breathe.

“Ma’am,” I choked out.

“Oh god, oh god, what happened to my baby?”

My hopes of getting some space from her and her many, many feelings were dashed. I went down with her, trying my best to stay present and support her. Her fingers burrowed into my skin as a sob disrupted her panicked rambling.

“I know. It’s okay.” I patted her back in some awkward rhythm while I babbled. I wasn’t sure if it was for my benefit or hers.

Mrs. Bascom pulled back. She looked beautiful even with her face crumpled in anguish. Her fragrance, coconut and chocolate, might have been pleasant under other circumstances. Paired with the syrupy copper in the air, it was enough to make me nauseous. The artificial light of the entryway illuminated the salt tracks on her face.

She clasped my hands in hers, and everything else faded away. The chorus of our breath was the only sound. We were one and the same. I saw Mrs. Bascom’s life through her own eyes and bore witness to the depth of her love for her daughter.


The nurse maneuvered my arms to cradle my newborn daughter just so. An unfamiliar emotion rushed through me—uncontainable love with an undercurrent of fear. But I felt certainty when I gazed into Hunter’s joyful eyes.

I felt fear when Delaney leapt off the swing set and pride when I realized my daughter was fearless. She would need to be brave to make it in this life. I felt rage when the doctor told us she would never go to college or work or find love. When he told us she would never be like ‘other people’ I knew he was wrong. He had to be wrong.

I felt despair when I saw Delaney’s tear-streaked terracotta skin. I told her ‘Black is beautiful, my Black is beautiful, your Black is beautiful.’

My heart overflowed when she placed in her school science fair. That was when I knew she would be alright.
Jo Denning is the author of the Saoirse Reilly series. She has spent her career as a behavioral health therapist supporting kids and teens who struggle with addiction. Jo began writing supernatural crime thrillers as a way of processing the traumatic things she has seen and heard. Her characters may be supernatural but their stories, their fear, and their pain are real. So, too, are their triumphs over impossible odds.

When she's not writing, Jo enjoys baking, drawing, and watching trashy reality TV. She makes her home somewhere in the contiguous United States with her husband, one fluffy cat, and one barely domesticated cat.

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: The Last One (Love At Last) by A.S. Kelly

Title: The Last One
Series: Love At Last
Author: A.S. Kelly
Publication Date: July 25th 2022
Print Length: 482 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy

Allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Anya O’Donnell, and I’d like to declare myself guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.

Guilty of what, you ask?

Well, for starters, I’m guilty of lying to everyone for years; of pretending when I should have been showing them all who I really was, what I really wanted. I’m guilty of pushing away the only person who wanted to stay, convinced that, one day, he’d have left, anyway.

I told him we were a mistake.

I told him I was better off without him.

I told him that I didn’t love him.

And now I miss him. I miss his cups of tea and his stupid cheese crackers. I miss his clothes, strewn about the house. I miss the way he would watch me sleep. I miss his arms, holding me tightly each night, making me feel at home.

But now we’re both alone. And I’m scared.

I’m scared that he believed everything I told him; that he has no intention of coming back.

Allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Owen McKenna, and I’m furious.

Why, you ask?

Well, because I decided to follow my heart and not my head. Because I didn’t listen to my friends or to their far-fetched theories. Because I left anyway – even when everyone was telling me to stay.

And now she doesn’t want me back. But I want her, desperately.

She’s the woman I’ve been waiting for. She’s incredibly sexy, and can make you laugh, even when you least want to. She’s never let anyone in, apart from me; and when she crumbles into my arms, it makes me feel like the only guy in the world.

But I ruined everything.

I let the L-word slip, and she panicked.

She told me things she didn’t even think – I know that. I know her.

I know that she’s scared, that she doesn’t want to take this risk. But I do. I’m ready.

I’m her exception.

I just need to make her see that, too.

Goodreads * Amazon

“Don’t you have anything better to do than spend your Saturday night with the woman who ruined your life?”

His eyes grow wide.

“I meant…”

He rests two fingers against my lips. My body trembles beside his in anticipation.

“I want spend the evening with you.”

I shrug, pretending this whole thing isn’t slowly, irreversibly wearing away at my insides.

“Choose what you want to eat, and I’ll find a film.”

He lets go of me and walks off, leaving me feeling suddenly very alone and very vulnerable. That’s not okay at all. It was this exact sensation that made me let a man into my house – and second after second, I realise I want that man a little more.

“Is a comedy okay?” he yells from the living room.

I turn slowly to look at him, sitting on my sofa next to the blanket he uses at night, his things strewn around him.

“S-sure,” I respond, without moving.

“Even if it’s a rom-com?” he asks, teasing, and I really wish I didn’t want to smile at him, encourage him. I don’t want to start down this path with him; I want to keep being the old Anya. But I’m starting to think that version of me has decided to just disappear with no justification.

“Only if you promise me you won’t cry.”

Owen laughs, then looks at me.

And I understand.

I understand I have nowhere left to hide.

“I can’t promise you that.”

I understand that this thing will hurt me more than it could ever hurt him.
A. S. Kelly writes Rom-Com, Romantic Fiction and Family Saga.

Avid reader, hopeless romantic, lover of yoga, knitting and home baking.

She was born in Italy but lives in Ireland with her husband, two children and a cat named Oscar.

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Thursday, July 28, 2022

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: Lost and Found (The Chronicles of Antecede #1) by C.M. Sage

Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for Lost and Found by C.M. Sage. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as a guest post from the author about the authors that inspire her. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: Lost and Found
Series: The Chronicles of Antecede #1
Author: C.M. Sage
Publication Date: July 12th 2022
Print Length: 264 pages
Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Sometimes things are lost for a very long time...and then they are found.

Take Gracie for example, a woman who lost everything, her life, her family, even her name, but now she is a Cathalian warrior of Antecede blessed with powers, which aren't yet fully realized. Her elder and nemesis, Donavan, finally granted the former professor an opportunity to train a new warrior. Her joy turns to shock when she meets her great, great, great, great grandson, Henry, accompanied by his wisecracking best friend, Milo. Henry recognizes his long dead ancestor right away, and it doesn't take the Cathalians long to realize that this meeting was no accident.

Gracie and the warriors of Antecede soon discover that they aren't the only ones laying a claim on their new charges. Menacing enemies from the South and their hired mercenary assassin, Revilan, the Bowman, have also taken an interest. Come along with Gracie, Donavan, and their fellow warriors on a perilous quest to protect all that is good and right from the evil that threatens it, and along the way discover what else was lost.

Donovan came back into the room and shut the door with enough force that the frame made an ominous cracking noise and startled an already jittery Gracie. He returned to his spot near the window without acknowledging her and didn’t speak for several minutes. Just when her mind began to wander back over the events of the day, Donovan turned abruptly and studied Gracie like she was a specimen under a microscope.

Blasted man or whatever he is. He is so...well, just so. Dammit, she thought bracing herself for the incoming onslaught.

She opened her mouth to get it over with and speak first, but he held up his hand to stop her. Instead, he waved her forward, and a reluctant Gracie moved towards him. It was rather like approaching a cobra and mesmerized she moved forward, coming closer and closer, but still, he didn’t motion her to stop. Her steps became slower and smaller as she got uncomfortably close to Donovan. He became a powerful mountain directly in front of her, and she felt his breath on the top of her head, lifting her hair. Gracie decided to risk it and stopped.
Lost and Found is author C.M. Sage’s first book in the Chronicles of Antecede fantasy adventure trilogy. She loves writing, reading, and traveling. Most of all she loves spending time with her beloved family and friends...and yes, that includes her furry friends. Life would have been much less sunny without them.

Authors I Am So Inspired By…
by C.M. Sage

The authors of many of my favorite books and poems inspire me to do my best when I write. They write even though it’s often an uphill struggle to have people find and read your work. I think writers are a lot like athletes who play for the love of the game…we write for the love of putting it on the page knowing full well that not all of us will be read.

One of my favorite authors who fought to be read is Jasper Fforde who wrote the Thursday Next books. I was lucky enough to hear him speak at one of our local, independent bookstores about how it took him ten years to get “The Eyre Affair” published. I’m so glad that he did! Thursday Next is one of my book heroines!

Louisa May Alcott inspires me. She wrote one of my favorite books of all time, “Little Women”, and beat the odds by getting it published at a time when women’s opportunities were slim to none. I can’t imagine a world where I hadn’t met Jo and her sisters…and cried one of the best book cries ever (I won’t spoil it, but if you’ve read the book, you know when!).

I admire the poets who take the alphabet and turn those 26 letters into masterpieces. I love reading the works of T.S. Eliot, Maya Angelou and e.e. cummings. The first time I read “i carry your heart with me”, I was just filled with awe. The “Holy Longing” by Goethe was so…I don’t know if there is a perfect adjective.

I admire Robert Pinsky, one of the U.S.’s poet laureates, who founded The Favorite Poem Project where people like you and me read their favorite poems aloud and explain why they love them.

In the last few years I’ve added authors like Diana Gabaldon (Outlander), Deborah Harkness (A Discovery of Witches) and many others to the list of authors who I admire. I’m sure you know them too…the ones who give us such magnificent characters and stories that stay with us long after we close the books.
C.M. Sage will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes &Noble to one randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Good luck!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Goddess Fish Promotions and the author assume all responsibility over this giveaway.)

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: It Started with a Dance (Pacific Grove University #2) by Tinia Montford

Title: It Started with a Dance
Series: Pacific Grove University #2
Author: Tinia Montford
Publisher: 735 Emerald Press LLC
Publication Date: July 28th 2022
Print Length: 384 pages
Genre: New Adult Romantic Comedy


It’s double time for Cami Clinton…

Dance is in Cami’s blood, but a bombshell diagnosis puts her on the sidelines. Now returning for her senior year of college, she’s determined to prove she is the dancer she once was. Each year, at the end of the semester, the campus hosts a dance festival. Cami knows this is her shot at redemption, but while at a party, things go horribly wrong and Cami suddenly has a new boyfriend: Marsh Lincoln.

Marsh Lincoln has two left feet…

He doesn’t dance. A nasty accident haunts Marsh and he’s just ready to graduate. Until he’s told he’s missing credits. The only class left to fill his missing credits? Ballroom dancing. To make matters worse, his girlfriend breaks-up with him in front of everyone at a party, leaving him with a new girlfriend he’s never met before…

It takes two to tango…

Acting like the perfect couple isn’t easy when you’ve just met. When the lines between what’s real and pretend blurs, they have to ask themselves: Can you catch feelings for something that’s all pretend?

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The Church of 8 Wheels vibrated with life. Tourists, students, and locals streamed in, and from the renovated church, old 70s disco tracks blasted from the inside each time the doors opened and closed.

Cami squealed, her head darting from side to side. “Can we play air hockey? I’m a pro at air hockey.”

He steered her away from the arcade machines. “After we talk to a few people.”

“Do you promise? Promise me. Ooh, there’s a zombie shooting game. Let’s do that instead. Well… it’ll scare me and I’ll have nightmares for a few days, but it’s fine. The shooting games give more tickets.”

“We’re not here to win prizes, remember?” Marsh bent and spoke in her ear.

Intertwining his fingers with hers, they merged into the throng of skaters. She gasped, clutching onto his arm as she took baby steps and clenched her eyes shut. He chuckled before his eyes scanned the crowd. An older woman blasted past them backward.

“Woah, she got skills,” Cami muttered. “Now, if you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?”


Marsh studied her, trying not to focus on how the spot she held him tingled like a live wire. Or the brief disappointment he felt when she released him, growing confident in each step. Was this what he was going to have to deal with? Her wreaking havoc in his life? He thought he put all of that chaos behind him, but Cami was going to stir it back up.

“We need to get to know each other, duh. We talked about this earlier dumb-dumb.”

Deja, Winter, and Ezra disappeared into the crowd, either skating or hanging out with other students from campus.

Marsh sputtered. “Did you call me dumb-dumb?”

“What movie?”

Cami clomped her feet rapidly as they turned the corner, and he bit his bottom lip to stop from laughing.

The Godfather.

Cami made a face. “The Godfather? Is that really a good movie or are people just hyping it up because it’s all about the mafia?”

“You’ve never seen The Godfather?”

Cami shook her head, suddenly leaning forward too far, and he pulled her back.

“You’re from Texas. Shouldn’t you like The Lone Ranger or True Grit?”

“First of all, just because I’m from Texas doesn’t mean I like cowboys—”

“So, you don’t like cowboys?”

He didn’t bother to fight the smile as he shook his head in amused frustration. For the last few years, he felt as if he’d been stuck in limbo, and just a few days with Cami was like he’d been struck back down to earth. Exposed and feeling things he didn’t want to. Emotions he tried to escape from.

“I do.”

Cami snorted.

“That’s beside the point. You’re stereotypin’ me. You know what; not just me but all Texans.”

“You sound all country when you say it like that.”

He rolled his eyes and she giggled.

“Anyway… The Lone Ranger is a TV show. Not a movie.”

“But Johnny Depp was in it.”

His head began to hurt.
Tinia (TUH-NIA) Montford is a Pisces who’s a sap for romance, especially when there’s (tons of) kissing. Loves eighties sitcoms and will consume anything with chocolate. She graduated from the University of San Francisco with a degree in English and Graphic Design.

She is a world traveler having climbed a volcano in Nicaragua, scaled Angkor Wat in the blistering sun, and roamed the Acropolis of Athens. Oh, she also dabbles in short stories occasionally.

If you can’t catch her writing, you can bet she’s overindulging on poke bowls, listening to the same four songs, or chilling with her adorbs doggie. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Fiction.

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Win an eBook of It Started with a Dance by Tinia Montford!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Xpresso Book Tours and the author assume all responsibility over this giveaway.)