Tag Archives: fiction

Book Review: The Friar’s Lantern by Greg Hickey

29 Jul

The Friar's Lantern front cover

You may win $1,000,000. You will judge a man of murder.

An eccentric scientist tells you he can read your mind and offers to prove it in a high-stakes wager. A respected college professor exacts impassioned, heat-of-the-moment revenge on his wife’s killer—a week after her death—and you’re on the jury. Take a Turing test with a twist, discover how your future choices might influence the past, and try your luck at Three Card Monte. And while you weigh chance, superstition, destiny, intuition and logic in making your decisions, ask yourself: are you responsible for your actions at all? Choose wisely—if you can.

Available on Amazon.

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My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

What a fun book to read. It’s like the Choose Your Own Adventure books for adults. I actually read The Friar’s Lantern twice. The first time I made the choices I wanted and the second time I made other choices. Of course, it was the “other choices” that gave me the million dollars.

After reading The Friar’s Lantern a couple times, I can see how the author could lead the reader to make certain decisions; however, he does give different choices with different outcomes so there are always those unpredictable souls who will choose the other path.

I definitely recommend The Friar’s Lantern. It’s a quick read whether you read it once or twice or more. See how your choices affect the outcome.

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About the Author

I started my first novel the summer after seventh grade. It was based on a short story I had written for class the previous school year about the passengers of a shipwrecked cruise liner forced to coexist on a deserted island.

I didn’t get very far. Much as I liked writing stories, I far preferred playing outside with my friends.

Eight years later, I began to find a better balance between writing and life. I wrote the early drafts of my first screenplay Vita during my last two years of college, doing most of my work in the dead hours of Friday and Saturday evenings before going out with my friends. Vita went on to win an Honorable Mention award in the 2010 Los Angeles Movie Awards script competition and was named a finalist in the 2011 Sacramento International Film Festival.

After college, I spent a year in Sundsvall, Sweden and Cape Town, South Africa, playing and coaching for local baseball teams and penning my first novel, Our Dried Voices. That novel was published in 2014 and was a finalist for the Foreword Reviews’ INDIES Science Fiction Book of the Year.

Today, I still love sharing stories while staying busy with the other facets of my life. I am a forensic scientist by day and endurance athlete and author by nights, lunches, weekends and any other spare moments. After my post-college travels, I am back in my hometown of Chicago with my wife, Lindsay.

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Book Review & Giveaway: The Dan Diaries by D.D. Marx

4 Jun

Book Title: The Dan Diaries by D.D. Marx (The Beyond Series Book #4)
Category: Adult Fiction; 200 pages
Genre: Chick-Lit
Publisher: Beyond Dreams Publishing
Release date: April 6, 2018
Tour dates: May 14 to June 8, 2018
Content Rating: PG-13 (minimal swearing)

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Book Description

Dan Sullivan was the best friend of Olivia Henry when his life was taken in a tragic car accident. Shocked to be on the other side, Dan navigates his way by learning his new role in eternal life. His first assignment is as Olivia’s guardian angel. He has the crucial role of guiding her to her pre-defined destiny. Dan’s death throws Olivia into a tail-spin which causes her to veer way off course. He understands the enormity of the challenge when he hears the mechanism by which he can communicate. He’s only allowed to use signs and symbols to get her attention and cannot interfere with her free-will.

Every time he thinks he’s close, something throws her off track. He’s forced to start over by convincing her to trust in their enduring, unbreakable bond. Olivia can feel Dan’s presence but is still reluctant to believe the messages he’s sending. She is fearful of falling in love again at the risk of losing another soulmate. Can Dan persuade her to trust in his love from afar so she can finally receive the happiness she truly deserves?

Buy the Book:

 

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My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. I had read the previous books in the Beyond Series and I enjoyed them so I was looking forward to reading this one.
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Most of the books I’ve read about characters in the afterlife have left a lot to be desired but this story about Dan was great. He becomes his best friend’s guardian angel and although I’d read the story about Olivia (Hank) and Finn  before, it was good to read from Dan’s point of view. I especially liked how God was depicted.
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I like D.D. Marx’s writing style. It flows well and she has a knack at making me cry. The only thing that I had a little trouble with were the nicknames Hank and Frank. Both being such good friends to Dan, I had to keep reminding myself which was which. This wasn’t an issue in the first three books but both of them being such a big part in this book made it more of an issue.
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In the first three books, it is obvious that Dan was supporting Hank from beyond. In The Dan Diaries, we learn just how much Dan, Frank, and God help Hank and Finn reach their destiny. This book is a good fourth book in the series but it could also be read as a stand-alone. 
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About the Author

 

D.D. Marx is a contemporary romantic fiction writer and blogger. Marx is a graduate of the University of Dayton, as well as the Second City program in Chicago, where she currently resides. A proud aunt and self-described hopeless romantic, Marx has always had a knack for humorous and engaging storytelling. Her pen name is a dedication to her beloved friend Dan, who continues to guide and inspire her in her daily life.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest

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Enter the Giveaway!

Ends June 16, 2016

1st Prize: Win the complete Beyond series (4 ebooks total / open int’l / 2 winners)

2nd Prize: Win the complete Beyond series (4 paperback books total) and a Shine Bright Journal (open to USA only / 1 winner)

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Book Review & Giveaway: Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani

17 Jan

Book Title:  Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani
Category:  Adult Fiction,  560  pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher:  Harper Paperbacks
Release date:  January 2018
Format available for review: print (USA only)
Tour dates: Jan 15 to 31, 2018
Content Rating: G (For general audience. Depictions of violence are minimal. No bad language, religious expletives, sex scenes, drug use or underage drinking.)

Book Description
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From Adriana Trigiani, the beloved New York Times-bestselling author of The Shoemaker’s Wife, comes an exhilarating epic novel of love, loyalty, and creativity—the story of an Italian-American family on the cusp of change.
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It’s 1949 and South Philadelphia bursts with opportunity during the post-war boom. The Palazzini Cab Company & Western Union Telegraph Office, owned and operated by Dominic Palazzini and his three sons, is flourishing: business is good, they’re surrounded by sympathetic wives and daughters-in-law, with grandchildren on the way. But a decades-long feud that split Dominic and his brother Mike and their once-close families sets the stage for a re-match.Amidst the hoopla, the arrival of an urgent telegram from Italy upends the life of Nicky Castone (Dominic and his wife’s orphaned nephew) who lives and works with his Uncle Dom and his family. Nicky decides, at 30, that he wants more—more than just a job driving Car #4 and more than his longtime fiancée Peachy DePino, a bookkeeper, can offer. When he admits to his fiancée that he’s been secretly moonlighting at the local Shakespeare theater company, Nicky finds himself drawn to the stage, its colorful players and to the determined Calla Borelli, who inherited the enterprise from her father, Nicky must choose between the conventional life his family expects of him or chart a new course and risk losing everything he cherishes.

From the dreamy mountaintop village of Roseto Valfortore in Italy, to the vibrant streets of South Philly, to the close-knit enclave of Roseto, Pennsylvania, to New York City during the birth of the golden age of television, Kiss Carlo is a powerful, inter-generational story that celebrates the ties that bind, while staying true to oneself when all hope seems lost.

Told against the backdrop of some of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, this novel brims with romance as long buried secrets are revealed, mistaken identities are unmasked, scores are settled, broken hearts are mended and true love reigns. Trigiani’s consummate storytelling skill and her trademark wit, along with a dazzling cast of characters will enthrall readers. Once again, the author has returned to her own family garden to create an unforgettable feast. Kiss Carlo is a jubilee, resplendent with hope, love, and the abiding power of la famiglia.

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My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

This is the first book I’ve read by Adriana Trigiani. I like her writing style because it flows well and she gives good descriptions. They can be a little too detailed at times for my taste, but that’s a personal preference. I especially liked the descriptions of Italy, it was almost like I was there.

Kiss Carlo is about one family with many characters. There are so many characters and so many plots that it’s difficult to get attached to the characters. It was slow at times but it did have a good ending. 

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this author so I plan on trying another one of her books.

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About the Author

Adriana Trigiani is the bestselling author of 17 books, which have been published in 36 countries around the world. She is a playwright, television writer/producer and filmmaker. She wrote and directed the film version of her novel Big Stone Gap, which was shot entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. She is co-founder of the Origin Project, an in-school writing program that serves more than a thousand students in Appalachia. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

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Giveaway

Prizes: ​ Win a paperback copy of Kiss Carlo (USA only / 1 winner)

(ends Feb 7, 2018)

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You Don’t Need Negativity

13 Dec

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Book Review & Giveaway: Beyond Love by D.D. Marx

1 Nov

Book Title: Beyond Love (Book #2)
Author: D.D. Marx
Category: Adult Fiction; 184 pages
Genre: Chick-Lit
Publisher: Beyond Dreams Publishing
Release date: November 2017
Tour dates: Oct 16 to Dec 22, 2017
Content Rating: PG 13 (Light sex scenes/not explicit; language (couple f bombs)

 

Description

After trusting in her beloved friend Dan’s guidance from the beyond, Olivia is finally on the path to realizing her destiny. Staring at a blank canvas after ditching her raucous corporate life and meeting the love of her life, Finn McDaniels, a hot, widowed celebrity chef, she is ready to begin anew.

Arriving back in Chicago, she receives more frightening news further delaying her future journey with Finn. Unable to control the outcome, she begins questioning her trust and faith in Dan once again. She distracts herself the only way she knows how, by diving head first into a new project. What seemed like a time-killer may actually be the thing that saves her and catapults her into a world she never dreamed of.

When Olivia and Finn finally reunite, a looming secret is uncovered threatening to ruin the relationship she has waited for her entire life. Olivia is forced to decide whether to tell Finn or let it live in the past forever. Is their relationship strong enough to weather the storm or will it cause them to part ways for good?

To read more reviews, please visit D.D. Marx’s page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy Beyond Love:
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My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. I read Beyond Believing a couple of years ago and enjoyed it so I was looking forward to seeing what happens in the next stage of Olivia and Finn’s journey.

Olivia and Finn have decided that she’s going to sell her condo in Chicago and move to California to live with him. They’re deeply in love with each other and are sure that his deceased wife and her dead best friend have had a hand in bringing them together. They do have challenges along the way but surely their love can keep them together…

Olivia does not do well when she is faced with a crisis. If someone she loves may be in danger, she falls apart so it’s a good thing she has a strong support system. Being able to call upon Dan also helps her. She seems so mature in some ways but her reaction to crises is rather immature, especially since she’s been through so much.

Olivia is keeping a secret that seems so trivial to me that I can’t believe she’s kept it for so long and has blown it so out of proportion. Finn’s reaction is not what I expected at all.

Beyond Love is full of interesting characters, close friendships, and love of all kinds. I look forward to reading the next book in the series to see what happens with Olivia and Finn.

 

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About the Author

D.D. Marx is a contemporary romantic fiction writer and blogger, as well as a lover of all things social. She is a graduate of the University of Dayton, as well as the Second City program in Chicago, where she currently resides. A proud aunt and self-described hopeless romantic, Marx has always had a knack for humorous and engaging storytelling. Her pen name is a dedication to her beloved friend Dan, who continues to guide and inspire her in her daily life.

Connect with the Author: Website  ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest

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 Giveaway

Ends Dec 28

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Review: Little Mocos by John Paul Jaramillo

1 Sep

Southern Colorado is home to “little mocos” Manito and his cousin Bea, both curious and sensitive, both tragically doomed and longing to live anywhere else. United in their agreement to escape onion fields and Ortiz family ghosts, the two stumble into their teen years with a stubborn brand of bad decisions and petty crimes. Against the cold and gray backdrop of the looming steel mill, Manito and Bea eventually piece together the unbending reality of their multi-generational family trauma, including an unanticipated close connection to local murderer Raymond “Cornbread” Vigil. 

The Ortiz family stories are minimal and elliptical in Little Mocos and reflect heartbreak and bleakness, but they also mirror strength and resiliency. Manito does not simply recover painful memories from his family; he begins to re-envision them. It is how Manito finds his own way to manhood and a glimpse of life outside of the county of orphans. 

John Paul Jaramillo, the award-winning author of this novel in stories, was listed as a Top 10 Young Latino Author to Watch and Read by Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature in 2013.

Available on Amazon.

 

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Little Mocos is a novel in the form of short stories about Manito and his cousin Bea. They live in the Southwest and are both orphans who are shuffled from one family member to another. They have a depressing life and a severely dysfunctional family.

The author has a good writing style but there didn’t seem much of a point to the overall story. It seemed more like just a bunch of short stories about the same sad family.

I did learn quite a few Spanish words as I read. I kept my laptop ready so I could look them up as they came along.

 

About the Author

John Paul Jaramillo’s stories have appeared in numerous publications, including the Acentos Review, Palabra, A Magazine of Chicano and Latino Literary Art and Somos en Escrito. He is the author of the story collection The House of Order, which was named a 2013 Int’l Latino Book Award Finalist, and the novel in stories Little Mocos from Twelve Winters Press. In 2013 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature listed Jaramillo as one of its Top 10 New Latino Authors to Watch and Read.

Contact Information

Website: http://www.johnpauljaramillo.com

Twitter: @johnpjaramillo

Book Review: Friends Disunited by Richard Ayres

4 Jun

Friends Disunited is set partly in north Staffordshire and partly in south Buckinghamshire.

It is 2002, and Dave is 59.  A former university lecturer, he had to retire after suffering horrific facial injuries which have resulted in his becoming a recluse. He becomes emotionally dependent on his counsellor, Susie.

Susie encourages him to end his isolation by making on-line contact with his former school-friends whom he has not seen since he left his hometown.  E-mails are exchanged, and his old friends begin to confide in him about each other.  Dave realises that he can influence their lives by breaking these confidences.

He begins to act as a puppet-master, with devastating consequences not only for his former friends but ultimately for Dave himself.

 

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Friends Disunited is a good example of how wrong first impressions can be. At first, I felt sorry for Dave who is a recluse because of facial injuries. The injuries are so bad that it can be difficult to understand what he’s saying. By the end of the book, I still felt sorry for Dave but for different reasons.

After Dave’s counsellor, Susie, realizes that Dave has become too emotionally dependent on her, she suggests that he reach out to old friends.

The internet definitely has its positive as well as its negative uses. Being able to email old friends without them seeing or hearing him is definitely positive for Dave. He can reconnect and he doesn’t have to tell them what happened to him if he doesn’t want to.

The characters in Friends Disunited are well developed, each having their own secrets and their own negative way of dealing with those secrets. Many issues have been lying just beneath the surface with Dave’s friends. When a couple of them confide in Dave and he breaks those confidences, things get interesting. Beween the secrets, the underlying tension, and Dave’s interference, what will happen? Hang on for the ride!

I definitely recommend Friends Disunited. It’s not only a good read but it is full of surprises.

 

 

About the Author

Richard Ayres lives in Staffordshire.  He worked in Further Education for thirty years before he took early retirement and began writing.

His first novel, ‘A Pennine Incident’, was published in July 2011.  This is a tense portrayal of a mystery in Martin’s past and its effect on his life and relationships – chiefly between him and his wife Jennifer, and another couple, Stephen and Jacqui. The main themes explored in the novel are the impact of a single traumatic event on the life of an individual, the fragility of friendship, the effects of ageing and changes in personality on relationships, and the impact of class origin and upbringing on later life, all played out in the seeming tranquillity of the Yorkshire Dales.

His second novel, ‘The Further Education of Mike Carter’ was published in February 2012. It is set in 2001 and is a satire on life in a mythical Further Education College in the English midlands. It portrays the clash of cultures in a college 8 years after semi-privatisation, where older members of staff cling to the public-service ethos (and some to a hedonistic lifestyle) and are fighting a rear-guard action against the New Men and Women who are committed to the brave new world of cost-cutting and competition. But the politics of the workplace are muddied by events in the personal lives of the protagonists, and when sexual tension is added to the mix, the outcome is unpredictable.

Richard’s third novel, ‘Letters and Secrets’ was published in August 2013. Set in England in the Jubilee summer of 2012, three couples living in different parts of the country await the celebrations with varying degrees of enthusiasm, hostility or indifference. Derek Bailey, in his 60s, has a secret past linked to a tragic event that happened 24 years before. He starts to write a series of letters to Marcus, a young man whom he has never met. The secrets revealed in the letters began to erode the fragile relationships of all three couples, for even Derek is not immune to the destructive potential of what he is writing.

Richard’s fourth novel entitled ‘Tired of London’ was published in May 2016.  This is a story of six former friends, reunited after 40 years, who embark on an extended pub-crawl through central London. Their reunion is brought to an abrupt end by a series of incidents which threaten the hopes they had of reconnecting with the past and each other.
The author explores the themes of friendship, ageing, the changes in English society over the past half-century, and the alienation of the baby-boomer generation from a world which acknowledges no debt to the time of their youth.

 

“Friends Disunited” by Richard Ayres is available in paperback and e-book from Amazon UK. It’s also available from Amazon US.

 

Press/Media Contact Details:

Contact:  Darin Jewell (Richard Ayres’ literary agent)
Managing Director
The Inspira Group Literary Agency
London, UK
darin@theinspiragroup.com
tel. UK +208 292 5163

 

The Amazon US purchase link in this post is an affiliate link. Purchasing through it helps sustain Bound 2 Escape.

Book Review & Giveaway: Fresh Brewed by Pamela Ford

25 Aug

 

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Breanna Mitchell is on her way to a relaxing vacation at the ocean. Maybe she’ll even have a beachside fling to help her get over a recent breakup.

But when a tropical storm makes her destination hotel uninhabitable, a chance encounter at continental breakfast delivers a fabulous option—with a catch. She and her friends can stay at a privately-owned, three-story oceanfront home—if she pretends to be the girlfriend of the owner’s heartbreaker grandson, Ethan. Since he won’t even be there, how hard could it be?

Everything is going swimmingly until Bree drinks too much wine and regales the family with romantic tales about her relationship with Ethan. His adorable brother Adam gets suspicious. His marriage-minded grandma gets engagement fever. The beautiful woman next door gets teary-eyed.

And then, Ethan unexpectedly arrives. Suddenly Bree is about to get everything she’s ever wished for—but is it what she really wants?

 

Buy the book: Amazon.

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My Review

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

I just read Over Easy and was looking forward to seeing what adventure the girls in The Continental Breakfast Club were going on this time (or getting themselves into). I found it interesting that Over Easy was what I would consider a mystery and Fresh Brewed is chick lit. It shows Pamela Ford’s diversity as an author and also makes me wonder what the next book will bring.

Fresh Brewed is told from Bree’s point of view. She is going on vacation with her friends Allie and Megan. Their vacation is turned upside down by a tropical storm. They’re still able to go but their hotel is damaged so they end up staying with the family of Kristin, a girl they met at a continental breakfast, of all things.

I really like Bree, Allie, and Megan. They’re independent single women who are looking for “the one.” Actually, Allie thinks she may have found hers and Megan was burned when she was young so she’s happy being single. Their new friend, Kristin, fits right in although she tends to try to “fix” things for her brother Ethan.

Fresh Brewed is fun, fast reading. It’s chick lit at its best with lots of humor and a little romance. I can’t wait to read the next book in The Continental Breakfast Club series! 

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Author’s Bio

2016-08-15_11-32-28Pamela Ford is the award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She grew up watching old movies, blissfully sighing over the romance; and reading sci-fi and adventure novels, vicariously living the action. The combination probably explains why the books she writes are romantic, happily-ever-afters with plenty of plot – and often lots of laughter.

After graduating from college with a degree in Advertising, Pam merrily set off to earn a living, searching for that perfect career as she became a graphic designer, print buyer, pantyhose sales rep, public relations specialist, copywriter, freelance writer – and finally author. Pam has won numerous awards including the Booksellers Best, the Laurel Wreath, and a gold medal IPPY in the Independent Book Publisher Awards. She is a Kindle Book Awards finalist and a two-time Golden Heart Finalist. She lives in Wisconsin where she is working on her next novel.

 

Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter   Facebook   Goodreads

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Giveaway

Five winners total:

2 winners will get a print copy of Over Easy + a $10 Starbucks gift card,

2 winners will get a print copy of Fresh Brewed + a $10 Starbucks gift card,

1 winner will get a print copy of both books + a $25 Starbucks gift card

Ends Sept 17

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Book Review & Giveaway: She Never Got to Say Goodbye by Ica Iova

8 Aug

She Never Got to Say Goodbye_Banner (1)

 

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When Olivia trades her promising career for a more domestic lifestyle as a wife and mother, she expects many things but never to see ghosts much less be one.

Her life with her handsome husband, Brandon, a successful criminal lawyer, starts as a happy one, but following a tragedy, guilt, alcohol and drugs crush their blissful world in a hurry. One minute Olivia is planning to leave the marriage and the next she’s floating at the foot of her son’s bed. Dead. Murdered. And all evidence points to Brandon as the prime suspect.

She is angry and determined to make him pay, but soon, she learns that if she wants justice, she must follow the clues that reach back into Brandon’s past.

Suspenseful, romantic and awash in the afterlife thrill, She Never Got To Say Goodbye captures the power of love and friendship.

Available on Amazon.

My Review

I received a free ecopy of this book for an honest review.

She Never Got to Say Goodbye is a love story, a murder mystery, and a ghost story all in one. Once I got halfway through, it was difficult to put down.

The story about Olivia and Brandon starts out sweet and his proposal is one of the best I’ve read or heard. Everything happened so fast, though, because months were skipped between chapters. It’s rare that I wish for more in a book but in this case, I would have enjoyed a little more detail.

The second half of She Never Got to Say Goodbye is fast paced and suspenseful. There are some twists, some sit on the edge of your seat moments, but there are also tender moments.

She Never Got to Say Goodbye has humor, joy, pain, love, hate, despair, and revenge. I definitely recommend if for anyone who likes the paranormal.

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About the Author

2016-08-08_7-15-18Ica Iova is the author of several books—two of which are award winners. She Never Got To Say Goodbye, won bronze at World’s Best Story, 2015, and Boundaries, was a finalist at WBS, 2014.

Ica writes what she enjoys reading. In her novels, she brings to life powerful, gripping relationships and fascinating characters to which readers can relate.

A former Examiner at Examiner.com, Ica is also an avid reader and a Reader’s Choice Official Reviewer. When she is not writing, editing, or marketing, she’s a proud wife, mother, and grandmother, with a substantial sense of humor. She loves spending time with her family and pets, shopping for shoes, or just lazing around with a good book.

Author website:http://www.icasworld.netTwitter @icaiova | Facebook

Worlds Best Story

Giveaway

Prizes: Be one of 20 winners to win an ecopy of She Never Got to Say Goodbye

Five winners will also win a $25 Amazon Gift Card (Open internationally)

Ends Aug 27

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Fiction is Wonderful

13 Dec

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