Thursday, November 30, 2023

Book Review and GIVEAWAY - Kassandra: A Tale of Love, War, and One Woman's Destiny: A Novel of Ancient Greece, by Alison Blasdell {ends 12/7}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Nikias and Kassandra strolled through Athens until they reached the city’s south edge. Then Kassandra indicated they would walk southwest. They passed through several small farms until they came to Despina’s farm. Nikias looked around.

“Olive trees? No wheat or barley?” he asked. “The land does not support the growing of grain. Some of the farms we passed plant it, but wheat requires they leave the ground fallow every other year. Such a practice is too costly for the farmers,” Kassandra explained. “Despina has a small area where her farmer grows just enough wheat for his family’s bread. The olive trees are quite productive, however, as are the grape vines growing on the hillside,” she said, pointing at the hills to the west.

“That land belongs to Despina also?” Nikias asked.

“Yes, her farm is quite large. Let’s go inside,” Kassandra said. 

Kassandra’s mother, Acacia, wanted a different life for Kassandra than what was available to her in Athens. Instead of a wife, hetaera, or slave, Acacia sent her daughter to be an Amazon. But her fate may require her to be more roles than any woman has been before.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY - Kassandra: A Tale of Love, War, and One Woman's Destiny: A Novel of Ancient Greece {ends 12/7}
This is the tale of Kassandra, born in Athens, Greece, in the 4th century BC, and her transition from a frightened but determined girl into a formidable warrior—a path of trust and betrayal, love and loss, joy and heartbreak—the story of a woman who challenges the very gods of Greece to find happiness.

Kassandra was just ten years old when her mother spirited her away in the middle of the night to avoid an arranged marriage, traveling until they reached the mountains the Greeks believed belonged to Zeus. There, her mother left her alone, telling her she must climb the mountains, a feat no man had accomplished, to find the secret band of free warrior women—the Amazons.

Kassandra was an amazing and inspiring woman. Forced to strike out on her own at only ten years old, she completes a journey that would kill most grown men, and it seems inevitable that she become a formidable Amazon warrior. While love was never on her agenda, she knows there is something different about Nikias from their first meeting. 

Although she knows of no woman who has ever been able to live both as an Amazon and as a woman in a different society in the same lifetime, the gods themselves may be guiding Kassandra on a unique path. This story was fascinating and earned 4 out of 5 stars. While it felt like an epic story, it was an exciting and engaging read that went quickly. It was hard to believe that most of the events described took place in less than 20 years of Kassandra’s life as an Amazon. This book would be highly encouraged reading for anyone interested in ancient Greek history with a female perspective. 

{click here to purchase on Amazon - affiliate link}

Becki Bayley is a wife, mom, and a cog in the corporate machine. See what she and her family are up to on Instagram where she posts as PoshBecki.


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Kassandra!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Thursday, December 7th, at 11:59pm ET, and winner will be notified the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be notified.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Kassandra: A Tale of Love, War, and One Woman's Destiny: A Novel of Ancient Greece, by Alison Blasdell

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Book Review: Distant Sons, by Tim Johnston

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Viegas pulled up in front of the house and shut down the car and sat a minute in the dark, watching the downstairs windows. The curtains were not drawn and she could see the play of firelight on the far wall of the living room, on the paintings hung there, but no other movement.

Lights had been turned on in the dining room and kitchen but no movement there either. No preparations for dinner. No sitting down to it.

She sent a text and waited. The reply came, and by the time she reached the stone steps he was standing in the open door.

“Detective,” said her father.


He was out of his tie and jacket but still wore his good pressed shirt, his suit pants, the nice black belt she’d given him for Father’s Day. The sight of his black Gold Toe socks made her smile, as they always did – a little shiver of childhood, days of starched khaki blouses and the wide-brimmed hat and the black utility belt with its pouches and snaps, the holster that smelled of leather and guy oil. He’d worn the same socks then.

Sean never expected his humble life to have much impact, until it suddenly does.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: Distant Sons, by Tim Johnston
What if?

What if Sean Courtland’s old Chevy truck had broken down somewhere else? What if he’d never met Denise Givens, a waitress at a local tavern, and gotten into a bar fight defending her honor? Or offered a ride to Dan Young, another young man like Sean, burdened by secrets and just drifting through the small Wisconsin town?
Instead, Sean enlists Dan’s help with a construction job in the basement of a local—the elderly, reclusive Marion Devereaux—and gradually the two men come to realize that they’ve washed up in a place haunted by the disappearance of three young boys decades earlier. As Sean and Dan’s friendship deepens, and as Sean gets closer to Denise and her father, they come to the attention of a savvy local detective, Corrine Viegas, who has her own reasons for digging into Dan’s past—and for being unable to resist the pull of the town’s unsolved mystery. And with each chance connection, an irreversible chain of events is set in motion that culminates in shattering violence and the revelation of long-buried truths.
Gripping and immersive, this crime novel by bestselling author Tim Johnston becomes so much more: a book about friendship and love and good hard work—and a masterful read about how the most random intersection of lives can have consequences both devastating and beautiful.

Sean never intended to spend any time in the small Wisconsin town where his truck breaks down. But he goes where he finds work, so when he’s offered a job along with a ride, it’s worth his time to stick around and finish once his truck is fixed.

Likewise, Detective Corrine Viegas never expects much to happen in the small town where she works, until a few people new to town keep popping up where she least expects them. Everyone in this novel has a past that may not be common knowledge, and most are content to keep their stories to themselves indefinitely.

The unassuming characters in this story had their own histories and lives. While their secrets may not have been secrets intentionally, once they were discovered, they were life-changing for others. The book was not generally action-packed, but once a reader becomes engaged with the characters, no one could resist the urge to get to the end and find out how it all connects. 

This story earned 3 out of 5 stars. The nostalgia of the stories still re-told around town from the 1970s was heartfelt and realistic. Anyone who enjoys small town family dramas would certainly enjoy this book.

{click here to purchase from Amazon - affiliate link}

Becki Bayley is a blogger for more than 20 years who primarily shares book reviews now. Feel free to review almost half her life at her blog,

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Curious Tides, by Pascale Lacelle {ends 11/16}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

It started with an oath.

Keiran handed her a small silver flake like the one she’d seen Virgil imbibing earlier. An Unraverler synth, he explained. It’ll force you to tell the truth when swearing your oath.

A distant, drowned-out part of her had a terrible sinking feeling as Keiran led her to the large pool. They waded through the shallows until they stood waist-deep in the center of the basin, just out of the cascade’s reach. The rest of the Selenics gathered around her, forming a tight circle in the order of the moon’s phases. All Emory could think of was how surreal they must look to the outside eye, all of them dressed in their sopping wet suits and gowns, their faces cast in dancing turquoise light.

“Here before us you must share three truths,” Keiran intoned. “A painful memory that haunts you, a dream that calls to you, and a secret that burdens you. Let these truths serve as a reminder of the Order’s secrets you carry, and those of yours we now hold.”

For those who dream of super power or magic abilities, Emory’s discovery of her newfound powers was a marvelous cautionary tale.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Curious Tides, by Pascale Lacelle {ends 11/16}
Emory might be a student at the prestigious Aldryn College for Lunar Magics, but her healing abilities have always been mediocre at best—until a treacherous night in the Dovermere sea caves leaves a group of her classmates dead and her as the only survivor. Now Emory is plagued by strange, impossible powers that no healer should possess.

Powers that would ruin her life if the wrong person were to discover them.

To gain control of these new abilities, Emory enlists the help of the school’s most reclusive student, Baz—a boy already well-versed in the deadly nature of darker magic, whose sister happened to be one of the drowned students and Emory’s best friend. Determined to find the truth behind the drownings and the cult-like secret society she’s convinced her classmates were involved in, Emory is faced with even more questions when the supposedly drowned students start washing ashore—alive—only for them each immediately to die horrible, magical deaths.

And Emory is not the only one seeking answers. When her new magic captures the society’s attention, she finds herself drawn into their world of privilege and power, all while wondering if the truth she’s searching for might lead her right back to Dovermere…to face the fate she was never meant to escape.

The evolution of the characters and their relationships to each other was so exciting in this book. There were plenty of instances where the reader couldn’t be sure who was right in their assessments of their own or someone else’s powers. While a hierarchy existed of how things were supposed to be for specific families and moon phase powers, Emory’s previously unseen powers were turning everything into something new. 

Emory isn’t one to usually cause trouble. She does what’s expected of her, and enjoys her lifelong friendship with Romie, until Romie seems to drift away, and then is lost to her seemingly forever. While the idea occurs to her to never return to school, where she last saw Romie and will now have to regularly see Romie’s brother, she really isn’t sure what else she would do with her time either. So back to school she goes. 

She surprisingly finds herself in what appears to be a love triangle, where she never imagined herself before. Is this what love is like, or could her suitors be after more than the kind healer she’s always been?

This was a great magical realism story, and it is so exciting that it’s the first in a duology! The book earned 5 out of 5 stars and would be easily recommended to those who enjoy high school stories and magical realism.

{click here to purchase on Amazon - affiliate link}

Becki Bayley enjoys drinking caffeinated water and making the best adult promise to herself: “You just have to get through this week, then things will get easier.” It’s a lie. It’s always a lie. Watch her persevere on Instagram, where she posts as PoshBecki.


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Curious Tides!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Thursday, November 16th, at 11:59pm ET, and winner will be contacted the next day via email, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Curious Tides, by Pascale Lacelle

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