Monday, July 3, 2017

Appointment with Yesterday by Christopher Stratakis (Review & Giveaway)

Today, I'm kicking off the tour for Christopher Stratakis' first novel. It's a coming-of-age immigrant story that I devoured in two days. This one is an Indie gem. Read what I thought of it and then scroll down to enter the giveaway to win a copy!

Book Details:

Book Title: Appointment with Yesterday: A Novel in Four Parts with a Prologue and an Epilogue
Author: Christopher Stratakis
Category: Adult Fiction, 334 pages
Genre: coming-of-age / WWII / immigrant experience
Publisher: IndieReader
Release date: January 2017
Tour dates: July 3 to 14, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There is no bad language or violence, but there are references to sex and sexual situations (including between a pre-teen and teen)

Book Description:

A poignant and compelling first novel, Appointment with Yesterday tells the story of Yanni, a cheeky and delightful Greek boy growing up in a small town on an island in the eastern Aegean.

Left in the care of his loving grandparents, Yanni endures the deprivation and terror of the German occupation during World War II and finally leaves his beloved homeland and family to rejoin the parents who had left him behind to make a better life for themselves in America.

Filled with heartbreaking and heartwarming stories of love, devotion, disenchantment, and dashed dreams, Appointment with Yesterday is, ultimately, the story of hardships overcome and a determined boy’s journey toward finding his destiny.

Buy the Book:

My Review:

I love when I pick up a book without knowing anything about it and discover an Indie gem. Although I wasn't too taken in with the book cover or the title, I was thrilled to discover this book. It's one of the best books I've read this year!

Based, to a large extent on the author's own life story, Appointment with Yesterday is a coming-of-age novel that begins with an old man in Greece, sitting on the veranda of his country home facing the sea and reminiscing on his life. We then go back in time to the story of Yanni, a Greek boy who lives on Erytha, a remote Aegean island, with his extended family, in particular his grandparents who have been raising him since he was a baby. His parents went back to America with the hope that they would soon return, but the years went by and it was only when Yanni was sixteen that he is reunited with them when he emigrates to New York City, where they live.

Yanni is a curious and vivacious boy who grows up loving the sea and his life on the island. He longs for his parents, and feels their abandonment, but is loved by his extended family and develops a very close relationship with them. I loved reading about his early life and the island ways. When Germany invades during WWII, even this small island gets swarmed with soldiers who starve the people when they take control of the food source. Yanni and his family go through some hard times and it teaches Yanni tough life lessons. I had never read about WWII from the perspective of a Greek boy who lived through it, so this made the story even more interesting.

When Yanni finally joins his parents in America, he experiences unbridled joy and excitement but also disappointment and painful disillusionment. As an immigrant he must learn a new language, a new way of life and live with family members who are essentially strangers. Yanni is a survivor though, and he works hard to succeed. As a reader, one cannot help but cheer him as he navigates his way through all of these ups and downs. 

Appointment with Yesterday is a fictionalized memoir that was such a pleasure to read. As the daughter of immigrant parents, this book resonated with me. Greeks and Italians are similar in culture. This book is beautifully written and the characters as well as the island of Erytha came to life under this author's deft pen. I was invested in the story and Yanni's life from the first page. For lovers of historical fiction and coming-of-age stories, this one will not disappoint. It made it's way on my list of Best Reads for 2017.

To read more reviews, please visit Christopher Stratakis' page on iRead Book Tours.

Meet the Author:

Christopher Stratakis was born and raised in Greece. After moving to America, he graduated from Drexel University in 1951 and New York University School of Law in 1955. Shortly after joining the law firm of Poles, Tublin & Patestides in 1960, he became a partner, specializing in admiralty and corporate law.

He has written and published several articles, lectured on professional and historical subjects, served as Legal Advisor to several non-profits (pro bono), and was an arbitrator in maritime disputes. He is the author of Mnimes “Memories” (2010), a book of essays, short stories, and poems that he wrote as a teenager. In 2015, he co-edited Chains on Parallel Roads, a book published by Panchiaki “Korais” Society of New York. In recognition of his extensive community involvement, he has been the recipient of several awards from religious, governmental, and educational institutions.

Mr. Stratakis lives with his wife in New York City. He is the proud father of three and grandfather of three. This is his first novel.

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Ends July 22

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Appointment with ISIL: An Anthony Provati Thriller by Joe Giordano (Review & Giveaway)

Book Details:

Book Title: Appointment with ISIL: An Anthony Provati Thriller by Joe Giordano
Category: Adult Fiction, 299 pages
Genre: Literary Thriller
Publisher: Harvard Square Editions
Release date: June 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 (No f-words but there's mild profanity and religious expletives, some depictions of gory violence and brief sexual content.

Book Description:

This time, Anthony's libido threatens his life. He flirts with Russian mob boss, Gorgon Malakhov's mistress. The Russian deals in death. ISIL, the Islamic State in the Levant, wants the product. Russian Intelligence supplies the means, and an art theft funds the scheme. ISIL's targets are chilling. The chase across the Mediterranean is on. Can Anthony thwart ISIL? Will he survive?

Praise for Appointment with ISIL:

​"A roller-coaster ride to the finish, this book confirms Giordano as a writer to eagerly watch."
- Kirkus Reviews

​"A sexy, all-in-one-breath read, this is a story for those eager to strap on their boots and immerse themselves in a whirlwind adventure that will take them from espresso in New York with the Italian Mafia to walking the Old City of Jerusalem with the chief of Israel’s security service."
- The iRead Review

If you like gritty intriguing thrillers involving the FBI, Russian/Italian mobs or Islamic Terrorists you will absolutely love this book…. The characters, the plot and prose come together for an outstanding work of contemporary Americana. PRIMO highly recommends Appointment with ISIL."
Primo Magazine

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

After reading Joe Giordano's first book, Birds of Passage, I was eager to read his latest release Appointment with ISIL and I was not disappointed. Although different in genre, Joe Giordano's crisp writing, complex plot and storytelling skills stand out in this book too. His main character Anthony Provati, an American-Italian with family in the Mafia, is a wonderfully flawed character who propels the story forward.

Anthony made his first mistake when he flirted with Russian mobster Malakhov's girlfriend. This leads to a series of events that gets Anthony involved with the Italian mob and finally leads him to ISIL territory and indirectly stopping terrorists attacks. Like a train, the story slowly builds momentum until it picks up full speed and the reader can't turn the pages fast enough to get to the end.

Giordano skillfully builds his characters, so each one distinctly stands out. Even the secondary characters get background information. Although the plot is multi-layered, it's easy to follow and there are no plot holes. Once again, I was impressed with Giordano's intelligent writing, the witty and dangerous dialogue among the mobsters and his knowledge of organized crime behaviour in different cultures. There was nothing predictable about the story (except perhaps that a pretty face would stir Anthony's libido) and I loved not knowing what was going to happen next.

Of course, the whole Italian connection appealed to me since I'm Canadian-Italian. I was very familiar with the Italian expressions used throughout the novel. I live in Montreal where the Italian Mafia is very active and was a topic of conversation at the dinner table among my father and my uncles. There are some rough scenes in the book, religious profanity and violence in the form of brutal killings, but none of it is too excessive considering the setting and circumstances of the story.

Appointment with ISIL is an impressive debut in the thriller genre, and a fantastic start to the Anthony Provati series. Joe Giordano is a talented author to watch out for, and I eagerly await his next novel.

To read more reviews, please follow the tour on Joe Giordano's page on Italy Book Tours.

Disclosure : Thanks to the author for sending me this book. I was not told how to rate and review this novel.

Buy the Book: 

Meet the Author:

Joe Giordano was born in Brooklyn. He and his wife, Jane, have lived in Greece, Brazil, Belgium and the Netherlands. They now live in Texas.

Joe's stories have appeared in more than ninety magazines including The Monarch Review, The Saturday Evening Post, decomP, The Summerset Review, and Shenandoah. His novel, Birds of Passage, An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story, was published by Harvard Square Editions October 2015. His second novel, Appointment with ISIL, an Anthony Provati Thriller will be published by HSE in June 2017.

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

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Ends July 8

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Dancing in the Rain by Lucy Appadoo (Book Spotlight, Author Interview, and Giveaway!)

Can she end the turmoil and escape the firmly built trap to find the freedom she craves?

I'm featuring Australian-Italian author Lucy Appadoo with her latest book in The Italian Family series! I have yet to read this series and I'm excited to have discovered this new-to-me author, especially because her books are set in Italy. I had the opportunity to interview Lucy and discovered we have lots in common. Check out her new title (isn't that a great cover?) and then enter for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card. 

Book Details:

Book Title: Dancing in the Rain (The Italian Family Series)
Author: Lucy Appadoo
​Category: Adult Fiction, 274 pages
Genre: Historical Coming of Age/Romance/Family Drama
Publisher: Lucy Appadoo
Release date: March 24, 2017
Tour dates: June 5 to 23, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There is physical abuse and death involved.)

Book Description:

Fifteen-year old Valeria Allegro works diligently on the family farm in Italy, where she is torn between her duty to her family and her desire to find freedom from her strict, domineering father. She finds solace in Dario, a young student who provides a blissful escape—until a neighbour’s son, Gregorio, decides he wants her for himself.

This raises an alarm for her father, which leads to family conflict and aggression. When Dario is threatened and her family is plagued by a series of suspicious accidents, Valeria is desperate to keep her loved ones safe. Can she end the turmoil and escape the firmly built trap to find the freedom she craves?

Buy the Book:

Interview with Lucy Appadoo:

EI: Welcome to Essentially Italian, Lucy. I'm excited to be shoecasing your latest release today. Describe your book in 20 words or less.

LA: Dancing in the Rain is an historical/coming of age story about romance and freedom for a fifteen-year girl from Italy.

EI: What inspired you to write The Italian Family Series?

LA: My mother and father both inspired me to write this series as I found their childhood stories touching and emotional. They both grew up in Italy and arrived in Melbourne in the 1960s to forge a life for themselves and their children. As we were growing up, they recounted their challenges, joys, and nostalgia with a resilient soul, and I had always wanted to recreate their stories through fiction. I honour their strength and love for their family through The Italian Family Series.

It is a true inspiration to know about all they had suffered growing up in the Italian village, and to have created a life for their three children when they had no penny to their names after arriving in Melbourne.

EI: Your parents are Italian immigrants, just like mine. Did you grow up speaking the Italian language?

LA: I grew up speaking an Italian dialect, originating from a small village, Piaggine in the south of Italy. I found that when I travelled to Italy at twenty-three, I was learning a whole other language; the purest of Italian rather than the dialect. I learned to use both the pure language and the dialect during my trip.

EI: I noticed we have a lot in common when I read your bio. I too have worked as a counsellor, caseworker and taught English as a second language. How much of your life experience permeates your writing?

LA: Some of my life experience permeates my writing when I describe the challenges and traumatic issues in my novels. I have applied and merged some of my experience with clients with my own personal challenges and grief. I feel that writing is a holistic process and covers both the personal and professional experience.

I use many things in my writing, and that includes my life experience, imagination, professional experience, knowledge, and research.

EI: What was the last great book you read?

LA: The last great book I read was All That Remains by Hannah Holborn, which is a suspenseful story about a missing boy and a deranged villain. It continues with the same characters in Book Two with Strange Lineup but the plot varies. The book is intriguing and captures you until the very end.

I enjoy books with psychological intrigue and suspense as I like to know what’s in people’s minds, given my psychology background.

I also enjoy reading stories about Italy (Adriana Trigiani’s The Shoemaker’s Wife) as I can relate to the culture because of my Italian upbringing.

EI: I loved The Shoemaker's Wife. Any future projects you want to share with us?

LA: I am currently working on a romantic suspense novel that is a spin-off from my novel, Rising Hearts. I am also working on a short story thriller (my second one as part of a collection of three short story thrillers). I am not sure at this stage whether I will continue with other character’s stories from The Italian Family series.

EI: If you could travel back in time, where would you go?

LA: If I could travel back in time, I would travel back to my younger adult days and change some of the bad decisions I had made, as in hindsight you know what went wrong.

EI: Thank you, Lucy!

Meet the Author:

Lucy Appadoo is a registered counsellor and wellness coach with a part-time private practice. She also works as a rehabilitation counsellor for the Australian government. In her spare time, she self-publishes or writes nonfiction and fiction texts. She previously worked as a rehabilitation consultant, caseworker, English as a second language teacher, and proofreader.

Lucy has postgraduate diplomas in psychology, education, and English as a Second Language teaching, as well as specialised qualifications in grief counselling and hypnosis. She has also completed wellness coaching courses (levels 1-3) at Wellness Coaching Australia.

Lucy enjoys reading romantic suspense, romance, thrillers, crime novels, family/historical drama, and sagas. She writes in the genres of romantic suspense, historical fiction, and romance. She has enjoyed travelling to exotic places such as Madrid, Mauritius, and Italy, and draws on these experiences in her creative writing.

Lucy’s favourite authors include Kendra Elliot, Christiane Heggan, Theresa Ragan, Tara Moss, Nicholas Sparks, Adriana Trigiani, Erica Spindler, and James Patterson (to name a few).

Lucy’s interests include meditation, playing tennis, journal writing, reading fiction and nonfiction texts about writing, coaching, and counselling, ongoing professional development, spending time with her husband and two daughters, and socialising with friends and family.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

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Ends July 1

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

More Than a Soldier: One Army Ranger's Daring Escape From the Nazis by D.M. Annechino (Book Spotlight & Giveaway!)

I am thrilled to be featuring the latest title by talented author D.M. Annechino. D.M. usually writes suspense thrillers but he has outdone himself with this one. More Than a Soldier is based on the powerful and true story of Angelo DiMarco’s survival, resilience and courage as he escaped the Nazis in Italy. My review will be posted on June 13 on Library of Clean Reads. Be sure to check it out. In the meantime, enter the giveaway and help us spread the word about this unforgettable story.

Book Details:

Book Title: More Than a Soldier: One Army Ranger's Daring Escape From the Nazis
​Author: D.M. Annechino
Category: Adult Fiction, 316 pages
Genre: Historical Biography, WWII
Publisher: CreateSpace
Release date: April 2017
Tour dates: April 24 to May 19, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 (A few four-letter words and violence associated with war)

Book Description:

Feeling a patriotic duty to defend his country after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, seventeen year old, Angelo J. DiMarco, enlists in the U.S. Army. Severely short of frontline fighters, the Army rushes Angelo through Ranger training and sends him to Italy as part of the 1st Ranger Battalion. Their objective: stop the German invasion.

Fighting on the front lines in Italy, the German’s teach Angelo a sobering lesson on life when they capture him during the bloody battle of Cisterna. Against insurmountable odds, Angelo miraculously escapes in a way that stretches the imagination. He survives behind enemy lines for over five months, hiding from the Germans and trying to outmaneuver them. He begs for food, sleeps in barns and suffers from many ailments, including dehydration, malnutrition, malaria and exposure to the elements.

More Than a Soldier is Angelo DiMarco’s powerful story of survival, resilience and courage.

Buy the Book: 


Praise for More Than a Soldier:

Annechino colorfully draws the actions scenes, and richly brings the supporting cast of characters to life. A moving tale of survival in war-torn Europe.
- Kirkus Reviews

Nuanced and eloquently written, More Than a Soldier adds to the body of WWII literature an extraordinary story of survival and a deeply affecting portrait of a soldier’s coming-of-age.
- The iRead Review

Meet the Author:

Daniel M. Annechino, a former book editor, wrote his first book, How to Buy the Most Car for the Least Money, while working as a General Manager in the automobile business. But his passion had always been fiction, particularly thrillers. He spent two years researching serial killers before finally penning his gripping and memorable debut novel They Never Die Quietly. He has written and published five novels—all thrillers. But his latest work, More Than a Soldier, is a Historical Biography set in Italy during WWII.

A native of New York, Annechino now lives in San Diego with his wife, Jennifer. He loves to cook, enjoys a glass of vintage wine, and spends lots of leisure time on the warm beaches of Southern California.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

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Ends May 27

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mailbox Monday for May 15

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home on its blog. Link up to share your MM.

Love these new Italian-themed books that are in my mailbox this week. Can you tell I'm itching to go to Italy?

I got this one free when I signed up to the author's newsletter. This one is a novella and I devoured it. She's written other books set in Italy and I plan to read them too. 

This one is on tour with Italy Book Tours from June 19 to 30. I really enjoyed the author's first book and I look forward to reading this one.

I couldn't help getting a copy when I saw this free on Kindle. A foodie mystery set in Tuscany? Yeah, I'm in.

I couldn't resist this one when I saw it on several blogs. It's a true account set in Italy during WWII.

Did you get any good books in your mailbox this week?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dreaming Sophia: Because Dreaming is an Art by Melissa Muldoon (Book spotlight & Giveaway!)

Today I'm kicking off the book spotlight for this dreamy novel! If you love books set in Italy and need to escape for a few hours then pick up Dreaming Sophia by Melissa Muldoon. You can read my review here and see why I liked this novel so much. And scroll down to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy!

Book Details:

Book Title: Dreaming Sophia: Because Dreaming is an Art by Melissa Muldoon
​Category: Adult Fiction, 232 pages
Genre: Literary
Publisher: Matta Press
Release date: August 2016
Tour dates: Nov 21 to Dec 16, 2016
Content Rating: PG (Mild profanity, and mild religious expletives, exploration Italian swear words, kissing - oh my!)

Book Description:

Dreaming Sophia is a magical look into Italy, language, art, and culture. It is a story about turning dreams into reality and learning to walk the fine line between fact and fantasy. When tragedy strikes, Sophia finds herself alone in the world, without direction and fearful of loving again. With only her vivid imagination to guide her, she begins a journey that will take her from the vineyards in Sonoma, California to a grad school in Philadelphia and, eventually, to Italy: Florence, Lucca, Rome, Verona, Venice, and Val d’Orcia.

​Through dreamlike encounters, Sophia meets Italian personalities—princes, poets, duchesses, artists, and film stars— who give her advice to help put her life back together. Following a path that takes her from grief to joy, she discovers the source of her creativity and learns to love again, turning her dreams into reality.

Buy the Book: 

Watch the Trailer:

Melissa meets Sophia Loren in March 2016!

About the Author:

Melissa Muldoon is the Studentessa Matta-the crazy linguist! In Italian, "matta" means "crazy" or "impassioned". Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master's degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence.

Melissa promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog, Studentessa Matta ( Melissa began the Matta blog to improve her command of the language and to connect with other language learners. It has since grown to include a podcast, "Tutti Matti per l'Italiano" and the Studentessa Matta YouTube channel. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Tours, which she co-leads with Italian partners in Italy.

Dreaming Sophia is Melissa's first novel. It is a fanciful look at art history and Italian language and culture, but it is also the culmination of personal stories and insights resulting from her experiences living in Italy, as well as her involvement and familiarity with the Italian language, painting, and art history.

As a student, Melissa lived in Florence with an Italian family. She studied art history and painting and took beginner Italian classes. When she returned home, she threw away her Italian dictionary, assuming she'd never need it again but after launching a successful design career and starting a family, she realized something was missing in her life. That "thing" was the connection she had made with Italy and the friends who live there. Living in Florence was indeed a life-changing event! Wanting to reconnect with Italy, she decided to start learning the language again from scratch. As if indeed possessed by an Italian muse, she bought a new Italian dictionary and began her journey to fluency-a path that has led her back to Italy many times and enriched her life in countless ways.

Now, many dictionaries and grammar books later, she dedicates her time to promoting Italian language studies, further travels in Italy, and sharing her stories and insights about Italy with others. When Melissa is not traveling in Italy, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is married and has three boys and two beagles.

Melissa designed and illustrated the cover art for Dreaming Sophia. She also designed the Dreaming Sophia website and created the character illustrations that can be found in the book and on the Dreaming Sophia websites.

Connect with the Author:

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Youtube ~ Pinterest

Enter the Giveaway!


Win a copy of Dreaming Sophia (print open to USA & Can, ebook int’l) One winner will also get a $10 Amazon gift card (3 winners total)

Ends March 18

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Italian-themed Books I Hope to Read This Year

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme is great for those who love lists. 10 is just a suggestion to aim for if you can hit it. You can do a list of 3 or 5 or 20, whatever you decide. And you can put a spin on the topic if you need to. Each week there is a new list to create. This week the list is a FREEBIE --- that super specific list we want to make?? All ours to tackle this week! So mine is:

Italian-themed Books I Hope to Read This Year

I love books set in Italy, written by an Italian author or just based on an Italian theme. It's what made me start Italy Book Tours. Some years, I've read more Italian-themed books than others but last year not so much, so I'd like to change that. Here are the Italian-themed books I hope to read in 2017.

Nonna's Book of Mysteries by Mary A. Osborne
This is YA fiction set in Florence of Renaissance Italy. I already read Alchemy's Daughter which I loved so I've been wanting to read this for a while now.

All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani
I loved The Shoemaker's Wife. Trigiani's historical fiction novels are so good, I'm ready to dig into this one soon.

Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani
Yep! Trigiani is coming out with another one. How can I resist?

Appointment with ISIL by Joe Giordano
Giordano's historical fiction Birds of Passage impressed me last year and I'm looking forward to reading another book by this talented author.

Tempesta's Dream by Vincent B. "Chip" LoCoco
I loved LoCoco's historical fiction A Song for Bellafortuna. So I want to read his first book, an Italian opera love story set in Milan.

Early One Morning by Virginia Baily
I've had this one on my bookshelf since I got it at BookExpo in 2015.  It's got such a good premise.

The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka
I bought this one when on vacation one summerSet in a seaside village on the Italian Riviera, it tells the story of a widowed butcher and his son...and there is a good amount of soccer...

The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman
After reading and loving The Velvet Hours, I couldn't resist this one and I am currently halfway through the audiobook. Another winner!

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
I just finished this one last week. I had to read it after reading Greg's review at Book Haven. It made me want to visit Florence!

What about you? Do you love books set in Italy?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

WE'RE CELEBRATING! iRead Book Tours turns 3 in January. Celebrate with us!

Happy Anniversary to iRead Book Tours!

iRead is on tour from Jan 2 to 27, 2017!

This whole month of January we will be touring and showcasing iRead Book Tours, our virtual book tour company that has been helping authors for the last 3 years to feature their books on awesome book blogs.

As part of our celebration, we have a  a giveaway for
$50 cash to any reader
and a free Basic Review Tour to any author with a published book. So be sure to scroll down and enter for a chance to win.

Would you like to celebrate with us? 

We would love it if you helped us spread the word about iRead and how much we love working with you bloggers, authors and readers. All you need to do is sign up to participate by being a part of our January month-long tour.
We already have 50+ bloggers participating so why not join us?
All you have to do is post about it on your blog.

To thank you for participating in our tour, we will enter you in a giveaway for a
$25 Amazon gift card.
​We hope you join us in letting other readers, bloggers and authors know about our services. 
​And of course, you will get a credit toward your Incentive Program for posting. Don't know what that is? Become a tour host and find out.

Thank you for celebrating with us!

Enter the Giveaway!