MIDNIGHT AT THE TUSCANY HOTEL by James Markert & Giveaway

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In MIDNIGHT at the TUSCANY HOTEL (ThomasMercer), a once-beloved hotel and the fountain can restore lost memories. But is it a miracle, or are there strings attached? 

The Tuscany Hotel was once a haven for young artists. A place full of inspiration and a work of art in and of itself, the hotel was built by Robert Gandy for his wife, Magdalena: a woman of beauty beyond description who was orphaned as an infant in Florence and grew up without the ability to remember. A tragedy caused the hotel to close its doors, however, and it has been years since the fountain in the courtyard ran with water and inspiration.

Vitto Gandy, Robert’s son, returns from the horrors of World War II to a wife who fears him, a son who is too young to remember him, and a father whose memory of him is fading. As Vitto faces the memories that torture his heart and mind, his father runs off in the night to seek solace in the last place he was happy: the Tuscany Hotel. Instead of finding ruins, he discovers that the water in the fountain has begun to run again. And as he drinks it, his memory returns.

Filled with Alzheimer’s patients hoping for restored memories rather than artists longing for inspiration, the hotel is once again a source of life and art. But nothing is truly as good as it seems, and the mysterious gift of the hotel comes with a price that each must determine they’re willing to pay. Bursting with beauty, art, and inspiration, Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel is a story of parent and child, husband and wife, and the joy and pain of what it means to be alive.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of the films, THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL and Wes Craven’s, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL while reading MIDNIGHT AT THE TUSCANY HOTEL. That’s not to say the stories are terribly similar, but I felt some sort of common surrealism, while reading. I suggest a couple of mimosas to enjoy while reading this one.


Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

About James Markert

James Markert lives with his wife and two children in Louisville, Kentucky. He has a history degree from the University of Louisville and won an IPPY Award for The Requiem Rose, which was later published as A White Wind Blew, a story of redemption in a 1929 tuberculosis sanatorium, where a faith-tested doctor uses music therapy to heal the patients. The Angels’ Share is his second novel, and he is currently working on his next historical, All Things Bright and Strange. James is also a USPTA tennis pro, and has coached dozens of kids who’ve gone on to play college tennis in top conferences like the BIG 10, the Big East, and the ACC.

Connect with James

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us if you’ve ever been to Tuscany and what you remember about your trip. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please.

MY KIND OF FOREVER by Tracey Brogan & Giveaway

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MY KIND OF FOREVER(MontlakeRomance) by Tracy Brogan is a lighthearted love story set in a small town. It’s book two in the Trillium Bay series. As the youngest mayor Trillium Bay has ever elected, Brooke Callaghan wants to prove she’s up to the challenge. She’s stepping out of her practical teacher flats and into her sister’s treacherously high heels…with disastrous results. But if she’s going to (literally) stumble her first day on the job, why not fall into the arms of a handsome stranger?

Leo Walker is a rarity on Wenniway Island. Not only handsome, he’s also single, funny, and—most importantly—interested in Brooke. Unfortunately, his reasons for being on the island are temporary, so in spite of the undeniable chemistry between them, he’s not a forever kind of guy.

When a private investigator arrives with news of a jewel thief hiding on the island, Brooke finds herself dealing with one kerfuffle after another, and Leo proves to be a delicious distraction. What does she really know about him, though? And the biggest question of all? Does this short-term romance hold the possibility of long-term love?

This is a cozy romance without any sex, but lots of kisses. I’d suggest a chilled pinot grigio to enjoy while reading!

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TRACY’S WORDS:

Hello! And welcome to the interwebz version of my living room. I’m so glad you’re here. Please feel free to pull up a chair while we chat. I’d offer you coffee but, you know… virtual. If you want coffee, you’ll have to get your own.

Annnnnnnnywho, some stuff about me…

For a very long time, I was one of those (quasi-delusional?) people prone to saying, “I’m going to write a book… someday.” And I meant it, but never truly believed being a published author was within my grasp. I dabbled in writing, starting manuscript after manuscript but never finishing one. I let my someday get postponed by other careers (in medical education) and family stuff (love, marriage, kids, dogs, vacuuming, divorce, more vacuuming) but when the second of my two daughters started first grade I made a decision. I decided I would either complete a manuscript that year or stop telling people I was writing a book. Talk is cheap, as they say, and it was time for some action. So, I gave the dream a deadline, which transformed it into a goal.

Although all my previous attempts at fiction had been in the historical romance genre, I had the spark of an idea for a contemporary romance. One with eccentric characters, a hunky modern-day knight, and a slightly neurotic heroine with perfectionism issues and an obsessive need to label her refrigerator shelves. (Yes, I have labels on my refrigerator shelves. Everyone ignores them.) I hunkered down that year and gave it my best shot and that book ultimately became my bestselling debut novel, Crazy Little Thing.

That’s the short version. In the longer version, I would tell you all the details about writing that story, re-writing that story, and then re-writing it again over the course of the next two years. I would tell you about the dozens of contests I entered, some of which I won, and some of which provided me with soul-crushing feedback. The victories were sweet, but it was the critical feedback that helped me learn how to craft a better story. I would tell you about joining Romance Writers of America® and meeting the best pals a gal could hope for. Without RWA, and without those amazing writer-friends I would not be where I am today. I might share with you the drama of the Query-Go-Round and the Great Literary Agent Hunt, or about how it felt to be nominated for an RWA Golden Heart award, not once but twice! I could tell you how it felt to be nominated for the prestigious RWA RITA award, not once, not twice, but three times! And I might add something about how incredible and surreal it feels to land on the Wall Street Journal Bestsellers list, or to hit #1 on the Amazon Kindle Bestseller list. Because all of that stuff is important and wonderful and I’m humbled and honored.

But what I really want you to know about me is that nothing brings me greater joy or greater reward than hearing from readers who say my books made them laugh out loud. That my books helped brighten an otherwise dark spot in their lives. Or made a long layover at an airport truly enjoyable. When someone sends a note to say, “I absolutely related to that character, I want to be best friends with this heroine, and I want to live in that town.” Well…THAT means more to me than awards or accolades.

I write because I have stories to tell, and I feel a sense of personal satisfaction when I complete a manuscript, but the thing that feeds my soul is knowing readers respond to my work, and that I have connected with you in some way. I write for you guys as much as I write for myself. It’s a pleasure to do the work I do, and as long as you keep reading, I promise I’ll keep writing!

http://www.tracybrogan.com

Thanks to Montlake Romance, we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us your favorite love story. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please.

THE OBJECT of YOUR AFFECTIONS by Falguni Kothari & Giveaway

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In Falguni Kothari’s new novel, THE OBJECT OF YOUR AFFECTIONS, two best friends rewrite the rules of friendship, love and family … and change everything they thought they knew about motherhood.

Paris Kahn Fraser has it all—a successful career as an assistant district attorney, a beautiful home in New York City, and a handsome, passionate husband who chose her over having a family of his own. Neal’s dream of fatherhood might have been the only shadow in their otherwise happy life…until Paris’s best friend comes to town.

Naira Dalmia never thought she’d be a widow before thirty. Left reeling in the aftermath of her husband’s death, all she wants is to start over. She trades Mumbai for New York, and rigid family expectations for the open acceptance of her best friend. After all, there isn’t anything she and Paris wouldn’t do for each other.

But when Paris asks Naira to be their surrogate, they’ll learn if their friendship has what it takes to defy society, their families and even their own biology as these two best friends embark on a journey that will change their lives forever.

THE OBJECT OF YOUR AFFECTIONS focuses on some very serious topics, but is able to focus on them without being didactic. There is a very realistic chemistry between the various characters and the complicated story, along with a complex story highlights the differences between traditional and modern families.

I suggest a dry chardonnay while reading THE OBJECT OF YOUR AFFECTIONS.

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Falguni Kothari is the author of The Object of Your Affections (which received starred reviews from Booklist and Shelf Awareness and was one of Popsugar’s Best Books of Winter 2019) and other “messy love stories” and kick-ass fantasy tales that are a “good choice for women’s fiction book groups.” Her novels are all flavored by her South Asian heritage and expat experiences, and delve into common, yet unconventional, themes of marriage, romance, friendship, family and parenthood. Her books have been reviewed and praised in a number of podcasts and publications, including the New York Times Book Review and Woman’s World magazine. Her essays and short stories have been published in Femina (India), Better Homes and GardensBook Riot and Writer’s Digest. She is also an award-winning Indian Classical, Latin and Ballroom dancer, practices Karaoke in her downtime, is an empty-nester, and loathes flying and deadlines.

http://www.falgunikothari.com

Thanks to Suzy Approved Book Reviews, we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us who your object of affection is. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please.

THE MURMUR of BEES by Sophia Segovia INTERVIEW & Giveaway

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Magical realism may or may not be your cup of tea, but if it is, a new voice has been translated into English.

From an enchanting voice in Mexican fiction comes Sophia Segovia’s novel, THE MURMUR of BEES (AmazonCrossing). It’s about a mysterious child with the power to change a family’s history in a country on the verge of revolution. 

From the day that old Nana Reja found a baby abandoned under a bridge, the life of a small Mexican town forever changed. Disfigured and covered in a blanket of bees, little Simonopio is for some locals the stuff of superstition, a child kissed by the devil. But he is welcomed by landowners Francisco and Beatriz Morales, who adopt him and care for him as if he were their own. As he grows up, Simonopio becomes a cause for wonder to the Morales family, because when the uncannily gifted child closes his eyes, he can see what no one else can—visions of all that’s yet to come, both beautiful and dangerous. Followed by his protective swarm of bees and living to deliver his adoptive family from threats—both human and those of nature—Simonopio’s purpose in Linares will, in time, be divined.

Set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution and the devastating influenza of 1918, The Murmur of Bees captures both the fate of a country in flux and the destiny of one family that has put their love, faith, and future in the unbelievable.

It is flowered with magical realism, which has brought Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabelle Allende’s writings to readers minds.

We got to ask Sophia a few questions about THE MURMUR of BEES and she graciously answered them.

1.THE MURMUR of BEES is a journey. What do readers find so captivating about experiencing a journey on the written page? 

Joseph Campbell wrote in The Hero of a Thousand Faces that “…we have only to follow the thread of the hero path. And…where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”

In The Murmur of Bees, the narrator goes on a journey while he reflects and tells us about another, a hero’s journey. He becomes wiser in the telling, and we go along because readers, I think, are avid travelers always in search of adventures that come with a turn of a page—and also of real-world personal truths. We open a book and start a journey always longing to reach “the end” and then and there, just maybe, some knowledge and understanding (or at least bits of wisdom).

2.You describe THE MURMUR of BEES as a journey of memories. It’s interesting how to juxtapose trying to forget memories versus trying to remember. Explain.

In The Murmur of Bees, an old man gets up from his Lazy-Boy in present-day Monterrey, Mexico and travels towards nearby Linares (located 120 and 220 miles south of the Texas border) without realizing that his true destination is in his lost childhood memories. He symbolizes all that we purposefully try to forget personally, collectively or officially. And all that can be gained by remembering, even if it’s painful.

3. You explore a different focus on the Mexican Revolution. Explain to us the fight at “Land and Liberty.”

In the south of Mexico only men of European descent owned all the land and hence the original people who lived and worked on it.  At first, the Revolution is about the right to vote and no reelection —a quick fix, a change of government— but it evolves into a gruesome fight between brother against brother at the southern call to arms of “Land and Liberty!” After the war, the land, south and north, was taken from its past owners and partitioned in small tracts and distributed among the campesinos by the new government.

Fiction or not, most books about the 1910 Mexican Revolution portray almost the same story: one region —the south—one valid ideology, one gender, one truth, one point of view, one way to be good or evil.  The truth about Monterrey and Linares (located 120 and 220 miles south of the Texas border) and all the Northeast region, where the painful labor and social injustices of the south were unknown and alien at the time, is left out all narratives. I believe Mexican history and literature is they are traditionally accepted and told remain incomplete. With The Murmur of Bees, I knew I was shaking things up more than a little, but I wanted to shine a light on the fact that there are other truths, not just that one “single story.” I wanted to add one forgotten but necessary piece to the puzzle of the Mexican story.

4. Bees are an organic metaphor for nature. Explain how they are the magic of the novel.

At first I just wanted someone to save an abandoned newborn from the cold and other dangers, and thought about bees: Aren’t they protective to the point of violence? Aren’t they nature’s precursors of life? They refused to let go of Simonopio and so became a central character—the precursors of life in my fiction as in the real world. The more I studied them, the more otherworldly they seemed; the more magical even in real life. Talk about super powers! Whatever magic there is in this novel, it comes from the bees and the triangle of creation they form with Simonopio and Nana Reja. They are the source of magic in the novel. They are a metaphor for the magic of nature itself. Of life. It wasn’t planned, it happened. And I let it, wishing to discover where it would take them, me, you, us.

5. Tell us what you consider magical realism.

Wishful imagination set in motion to better understand the incomprehensible and beautify the ugliness that can be found in real life.

6. You like to write surrounded by “joyous chaos.” Explain.

Before becoming a novelist, I was wife and mother of three. A PTA/soccer/football/dance/theatre mom with all that that entails. That means I learned to concentrate over and around anyone, anything and everything to write. My home office has a portal but no door: everyone—including my two dogs and a cat—is welcome to come and go. Interruptions are common but they don’t paralyze me. I simply pick up where I left off. I don’t lose the thread of my story, and I don’t lose connection with my people. Family is chaos, but also a source of joy and I wouldn’t trade that for all the quiet in the world.

7. This is your first novel translated into English. What can English speaking/reading audiences expect next.

I didn’t plan it, but all my novels tend to be a rescue effort of lost, ignored and forgotten stories or characters, so whichever novel is next to be translated into English, Peregrinos or Huracán, a reader can expect to find a deep, exciting, but always different take on the traditional points of view.

Sofia Segovia, credit Ángel Huerta (1)

Sofía Segovia was born in Monterrey, Mexico. She studied communications at Universidad de Monterrey, thinking mistakenly that she would be a journalist. But fiction is her first love. A creative writing teacher, she has also been a ghostwriter and communications director for local political campaigns and has written several plays for local theater. Her novels include Noche de huracán (Night of the Hurricane), El murmullo de las abejas (The Murmur of Bees)—which was called the literary discovery of the year by Penguin Random House and named Novel of the Year by iTunes—and Huracán. Sofía likes to travel the world, but she loves coming home to her husband, three children, two dogs, and cat. She writes her best surrounded and inspired by their joyous chaos.
http://www.sophiasegovia.com

Thanks to Sophia’s lovely publicist, Megan, we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us what you think about “mystical realism.”  Have you read any mystical realism? We’ll announce winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please.

** MORE APRIL WINNERS ** MORE APRIL WINNERS ** MORE APRIL WINNERS **

HAPPY APRIL!

We have some more winners to tell you about. Remember, you can only win if you leave a comment after the reviews. Good luck!

EILEEN J wins I’M FINE AND NEITHER ARE YOU

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NANCY B wins THE GIRLS HE USED TO KNOW

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JANE B wins BEAUTIFUL BAD

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PAMELA C wins THE PROMISE OF US

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ANNE wins WHEN WE LEFT CUBA

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STACEY R. wins PICKLE’S PROGRESS

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JANE B. wins DARK BLOSSOM

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CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF OUR WINNERS!

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DARK BLOSSOM by Neel Mullick & Giveaway

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Have you ever entered into counseling with a therapist? If so, this question is for you: While talking about your marriage, relationship or whatever, have you ever wondered what’s going on in your therapist’s life? Have you ever paused and thought: I wonder if his/her marriage is wonderful, or if they suffer from some problems.

Author Neel Mullick’s novel, DARK BLOSSOM (RUPA) introduces us to therapist, Cynthia and patient, Sam. Sam has tragedy touch his family’s life, and therapist, Cynthia is going through a rough divorce. In this doctor’s office we meet a couple of people dealing with some heavy stuff.

Sam returns home from a business trip a day before his son’s thirteenth birthday and is looking forward to being with his family, when his world is cruelly shattered in one fell swoop. Initially he thinks he can cope with the loss, but finally seeks the help of Cynthia, an experienced therapist, to regain his equipoise. What he does not know is that Cynthia herself is trying to cope with a debilitating divorce and the sinister shadow of her ex-husband over her daughter…

What happens when doctor and patient find themselves in the same sinking boat. Moreover, when they are rowing in opposite directions–one clinging to the past, and the other unable to get rid of it! In the midst of it all is Lily, Cynthia’s daughter, who harbours a secret that has the power to explode the lives around her.

Taut with tension and intensity, Dark Blossom is a short glimpse of what lies under the surface of apparently ‘normal’ people. The cover is noteworthy. The ending may surprise you … our time is up.

*****

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With degrees in Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon, USA, and Business Administration from INSEAD, France, Neel is the Head of Product and Information Security at a Belgian family-office technology company.

He mentors women entrepreneurs through the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, is involved in raising a generation of digital and socially-aware leaders with the Steering for Greatness Foundation (Nigeria), supports improvement in the quality of life of domestic workers at Emprendedoras del Hogar (Peru), and is helping IIMPACT (India) break the cycle of illiteracy plaguing young girls from socially and economically impoverished communities.

He lives on three continents, spending his time between New York, Brussels, and New Delhi, has survived ten days (and nights!) at an airport, and a free fall five-hundred metres from the sky.
Concerned with the inverse correlation that seems to exist between society’s progress and the empathy with which it interacts with the universe around it, he firmly believes the solution to a rapidly fracturing world lies in peeling enough layers to discover the similarities, rather than judging on mere superficialities.

Thanks to FSB Associates we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us about any therapy experiences you’ve had. Well announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please.

BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND by Heather Gudenkauf

A gripping thriller about three young girlfriends, a dark obsession and a chilling crime that shakes up a quiet Iowa town.

In Heather Gudenhauf’s new thrilling novel, BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND (ParkRowBooks), twelve-year-old Cora Landry and her friends Violet and Jordyn, have a sleepover, at least it was supposed to be an ordinary sleepover—movies and Ouija and talking about boys. But when they decide to sneak out to go to the abandoned rail yard on the outskirts of town, little do they know that their innocent games will have dangerous consequences.

Later that night, Cora Landry is discovered on the tracks, bloody and clinging to life, her friends nowhere to be found. Soon their small rural town is thrust into a maelstrom. Who would want to hurt a young girl like Cora—and why? In an investigation that leaves no stone unturned, everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted—not even those closest to Cora.

BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND is a timely and gripping thriller about friendship and betrayal, about the power of social pressure and the price of needing to fit in. It is about the great lengths a parent will go to protect their child and keep them safe—even if that means burying the truth, no matter the cost.

We have an excerpt of BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND to share with you.

“Do you know if Cora is okay?” I ask Judy, who situates a metal cart with an arrangement of paper envelopes, jars in a variety of sizes, a large tweezer, a camera and several other items I can’t identify next to Violet’s bed.

“Cora?” Judy asks. I glance over at Violet to see if hearing her friend’s name brings any reaction. It doesn’t. “I don’t know who that is.”

“She’s the other girl who was brought here. She came in an ambulance,” I explain. “She looked like she was hurt pretty badly.”

“I wouldn’t know anything about that. Let’s just focus on Violet right now,” Judy says, holding up a small spatula-shaped tool. “See this, Violet? I’m going to use this to clean your fingernails, okay? It won’t hurt a bit.” I watch while Judy uses the spatula to scrape dried blood from beneath Violet’s fingernails and deposit it within one of the paper envelopes.

This is when I understand that this nurse isn’t just treating my daughter for shock or dehydration, she’s collecting evidence. This is why they bagged up Violet’s bloody clothing and cell phone. That’s what the camera is for and the thought of others seeing photos of my daughter, half-dressed and covered in her best friend’s blood, is too much.

My stomach lurches and I leap from the chair, unable to speak. I stagger out to the hallway in search of a bathroom. Probably from the look on my face, a woman pushing a cart of cleaning supplies points me in the right direction. I make it to the toilet just in time before I start heaving. The sour taste of the chicken marsala and wine Sam and I ate fills my throat.

Who could have done this? She’s nearly catatonic and they are poking and prodding her to gather evidence. I think again of Cora, somewhere in this hospital being treated for terrible injuries. I need to know what is going on and at the same time want to know nothing. I only want to take Violet home with me and try not to think about any of this.

I sit on the floor for a minute catching my breath before pushing myself up from my knees and flushing the toilet. I try to rinse the bitter taste from my mouth with water from the tap. I run my fingers through my hair and take several deep breaths before stepping back into the hallway. I’m still not ready to go back into Violet’s room. God, I’m such a coward.

Dr. Soto is standing outside Violet’s room talking with the officer who drove us to the hospital. Dr. Soto glances my way, his face grim. My first thought is that Violet must have taken a turn for the worse and I press my fingers against the wall to steady myself. The officer turns and I register the worry in his eyes, the tightness around his mouth. I will my legs to move me forward but I don’t want to hear what they are going to tell me. I have only been away for a few minutes. What possibly could have gone wrong?

Dr. Soto and the officer move toward me and for an instant I want to run. If they can’t catch me they won’t be able to give me the news. My thoughts travel to the darkest corners: collapsed lungs, a brain bleed, a ruptured spleen, internal injuries that might have gone undetected. I can’t catch my breath and as they draw closer I press myself more closely to the wall, trying to make myself smaller, trying to disappear.

“Ms. Crow,” the officer begins. My eyes are on Dr. Soto, who must recognize my terror and lays a reassuring hand on my shoulder. “Violet’s fine,” he says.

I want to cry. I want to lash out at them for scaring me so badly. “What is it?” I ask, unable to keep the anger from my voice but instantly I’m sorry for it. “Is it Cora, then? Is she okay?”

Officer Grady ignores my question. “I really need to ask Violet a few questions,” he says. “We need to get as much information about what happened as possible.”

“I told him that he needed to talk with you first before speaking with her,” Dr. Soto says before excusing himself.

“I don’t know,” I hesitate. “She’s in shock. I don’t think she’s in any condition to talk to anyone. She tried to say something at the train yard but I couldn’t hear what it was. Maybe one of the other cops heard what she said.” Officer Grady shifts from foot to foot, runs a thumb across his lips but doesn’t say anything. “What?” I ask. “Do you know something? Did she say who did this?”

*****

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

About Heather Gudenkauf

Heather Gudenkauf is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and Not a Sound.  Heather lives in Iowa with her family.

Connect with Heather

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

We’ll have a review and giveaway Monday, May 6th. Have a great week!