Tuesday, March 31, 2020


~Post Includes:  Book Spotlight, Author Bio,
 Unique Author Guest Post & Giveaway~
Shenanigans JustRead Blog Tour 

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour & Giveaway for Shenanigans by Heather Norman Smith, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


Shenanigans by Heather Norman Smith Title Shenanigans
Author: Heather Norman Smith
Publisher: Every Season Books
Release Date: April 1, 2020
Genre: Inspirational Contemporary Fiction

You're never too old for fun, faith, or love.

Lavinia Lewis is a wealthy southern widow who enjoys a good prank. But when a resident at her posh retirement community in Southport, North Carolina gets sick at a potluck, Lavinia's reputation as a jokester lands her in big trouble. How can she clear her name when her own daughter doesn't believe she's innocent?

Neville McGrath is a long-in-the-tooth lawyer, afraid of being put out to pasture. Torn between his nephew's offer to move to Maine to live with him and his desire to keep working, Neville discovers other options when he takes Lavinia's case.

The jokes keep her young, but Lavinia remembers the true source of joy as she faces criminal charges. Can she help Neville find his faith for the first time, and can they both find love at eighty-years-old?

A humorous and inspirational story with lovable characters, a beautiful setting, fun mystery, sweet romance, family drama, and an ending that will leave you sighing in satisfaction.

GUEST POST TOPICS:  What inspired you to write a contemporary romance story about 'long-in-the-tooth' characters? What research, if any, did you conduct while working on your story?

This book literally began with one word: Shenanigans. As I explain in the author’s note, my family was headed down the road in our minivan when my husband made some passing comment about my mother and her 'shenanigans.' I don’t remember the context, but it was a light-hearted statement. We all laughed because the kids call her 'Nana' and it sounded like a play on her name. At that moment, I started dreaming up a story about a prank-playing grandmother. That was the beginning. I had to figure out how the pranks would turn into a conflict for her and what the resolution would be. It was a fun story to piece together, but the romance was a surprise to me. When Neville came in to help Lavinia with her problem, the story became much more romantic that I expected, so it felt like the characters just wanted it that way. The romance is so sweet, and I am really happy with the way it develops in the story. I know some cute, elderly dating couples in real life that served as great inspiration for that type of relationship as I was writing.

The setting of the book is a place with which I am very familiar, so I didn’t have to do a lot of research about it except to refresh my memory on street names and such, and to look at pictures to help better describe scenes. The most research time was probably spent on the criminal case. I had to learn what the charges, procedures, and processes could be like. Without giving away too much of the plot, I also researched the medical condition of fluoride hypersensitivity and the symptoms and effects of suffering a stroke.

One of the many joys of writing books is the opportunity to learn new things!
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PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository  


Heather Norman Smith

Heather Norman Smith is a Christian Fiction and devotions author. Her goal is to use the written word to entertain and encourage while illuminating the redemptive love of God. She is proud to be a life-long North Carolinian and also aims to present the beauty of the Tar Heel State in her fiction. Heather's home is just outside Winston-Salem, NC, where she lives with her husband, their four children (currently including a foster son,) and several very spoiled pets. In addition to writing and spending time with her family, Heather enjoys singing about Jesus. Her "day job" is in the Information Technology field, and she is also involved in youth ministry with her husband. Heather's other novels include Grace & Lavender and Where I Was Planted.

CONNECT WITH HEATHER: Website | FacebookTwitter | Instagram  


(1) winner will receive a print copy of Shenanigans and a story inspired glass ornament! Plus (1) additional winner will receive a print copy of Shenanigans!

Shenanigans JustRead Blog Tour Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule shown below. Giveaway will begin at midnight March 30, 2020, and last through 11:59 PM EST on April 6, 2020. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US mailing addresses only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.


Sunday, March 29, 2020


~Post Includes:  Book Spotlight, Unique
Author Interview & Giveaway~


Big adventures can happen in tiny places!

Lon likes science projects and history books. Livi would rather bounce on the trampoline and play with her dog. This brother and sister have nothing in common.

When Lon and Livi discover a wedding party of fairies in their back yard, they accidentally steal a magic wish. But they can't just give it back. No! Magic doesn't work that way. They have to go on a dangerous quest for three special objects, and the only way to survive is to work together. That's going to be hard for two siblings who barely get along.

Oh, and there's one more problem. They're only a few inches tall now!!

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Be-Careful-Where-You-Wish-ebook/dp/B085BJXJSY


Lia London started writing when she was about ten years old. Mostly she wrote funny skits for her classmates to perform in school. By the time she was a freshman in college, she wrote a one-act musical comedy for a local children's theater.

She spent many years as a teacher in public, private, and home school co-op settings, and enjoys being creative and rambunctious with young students. Now-a-days, she teaches martial arts to children (which has meant making online videos in recent days thanks to Covid19). Every day, she is inspired by the way children see the world.

London has a cat named Cookie and a dog named Rolo, and they have a back yard and neighborhood that look very very much like the one in the story.

Website: https://lialondonbooks.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LiaLondon1


June: Welcome to 'Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic', Lia. Congratulations on the recent release of your revamped middle-grade fantasy novel, 'Be Careful Where You Wish'!

June: Please tell us how you created your setting and developed the characters for this book. Do you plan for this book to kick-off a series or is it a standalone?

Lia: Since my own childhood days, I have always liked to daydream about what it might be like to be a few inches tall in a familiar place. How would everything change? What would be fun? What would be scary or difficult? That’s where the premise came from, and the story is consequently set in my own back yard. All the things described really exist in our neighborhood.

The main characters—two human children—are quite tightly based on my own children when they were little. The kids knew I would write a story about my daydream starring them someday, and I finally did.

June: Who is your favorite character in the story? Why is this character your favorite? Without spoiling the story, is there anyone in the story who you do not like? Why not?

Lia: In this story, the little sister Livi proves to be a lot of fun. She’s rambunctious and not quick to follow rules, but she’s also able to look on the bright side of situations and enjoy the wonder of new adventures.

I’m not particularly fond of Magenta, a flutterby fairy, who has a very negative sibling rivalry going with her sister Periwinkle. It makes her spiteful and reckless.

June: As I browsed your website in preparation for this interview, I discovered that you have written in the following genres: Children's Lit, Inspirational Non-Fiction, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Humor, and Romantic Comedies! Wow! Are there any other fictional genres you might want to try? What additional non-fiction subject(s) would you like to write about?

Lia: I’m eyeballing the whole dystopian genre that seems to have taken over the teen literature section. Also, I’d like to attempt a grand, epic fantasy novel. You know, the kind that acts as a doorstop or a dry flower press. Most of my books are on the shorter side of novel length, and I wonder if I could write an engaging enough story to keep readers turning for 400+ pages.

In the non-fiction world, I’m contemplating a short book with a title like Musings of a Middle-aged Ninja. It would talk about life lessons I’ve learned from my ten years of practicing and teaching martial arts.

June: What or who inspired you to become an author?

Lia: I was a latch-key kid growing up in neighborhoods that didn’t have a lot of other kids my age, so books were my most constant companions. The love of reading naturally spilled over into a love of storytelling, and I began writing humorous sketches in grade school. Writing never left my life from that time on.

June: When you write a book, do you outline the entire story, or do you have a different way of organizing your plot, characters, etc.? Do you always know the ending of your story before you begin putting things down on paper, or into your computer?

Lia: I’m a plotter/pantser hybrid. Usually, what happens is I’ll start getting ideas for a story. I open a document, give it a working title, and add “work pages”. The doc fills up with plot point ideas, character sketches, even bits of dialogue or key images.

Eventually, when I’m ready to work on the story for real, I print out the doc and cut it into the individual entries. Then I plop down on the carpet or clear the dining room table and stare at the pieces until a logical order starts to form. It’s not uncommon to see me assemble dozens of pieces of paper into piles and rows for hours at a time. Once I’ve sorted the ideas, I’ll create a bullet-point outline and start writing from there.

I typically know the beginning, a few big moments, and the grand finale, but the journey in between those points is left to the characters to dictate. I just start writing and let them take me along. If they get too far off the plan, I throw a course-correcting plot twist to nudge them back in the right direction—unless they had a better idea than I do, in which case I follow along, trusting! That sounds crazy, but writers know what I mean.

June: Please share the positives along with the challenges of being an indie author.

Lia: The biggest positive for me is the complete creative control. Yes, if I want to make bank, I need to play to market niches more, but the story is mine. The values are mine. No one is telling me to spice it up with more stuff that I consider yucky. And I can mix up genres, writing in several, and even combining them when it makes sense.

The biggest challenge is always the marketing. There are millions of books on Amazon. I can have a ranking in the six-digits, and I’m in the top 10% of writers. Five-digits = top 1%. But you need to be selling in those rankings or higher to be making any real money. It’s insane. You’ve literally got to beat out 99.9% of the books out there to make a solid living.

So, I don’t. Instead, it’s like a hobby that pays in fits and starts. Here a visit to Taco Bell, there a new patio set. Here a mani-pedi, there a vacation to Disney Land. It’s such a lava lamp of ups and downs. If you don’t accept that, you’ll be miserable. If you do, it’s like getting a windfall for doing something you’d do anyway because it’s therapeutic and fun.

June: You have taken a leadership role in the 'clean indie' publishing niche. Please discuss your reasons for and goals in launching the Clean Indie Reads Facebook group for indie authors and the Flinch-Free Fiction Facebook group and website which target readers who are interested in reading 'clean' fiction.

Lia: When I first ditched my corrupt publisher and went indie, I naturally wanted to find out more about what was happening in the self-published world of writers. I quickly discovered the wide disparity in quality, from gosh-awful-slop to holy-cow-wow-why-isn’t-this-a-movie-franchise-already?! Wanting to highlight the talented indies, I started a little book blog to feature the quality reads I found. Since I knew my most likely followers were going to be family and friends from church, I opted to stick to cleaner content. Thus, “Clean Indie Reads” was born.

Shortly after, one of the authors I’d featured suggested creating a Facebook group to help cross-promote. She already had a similar group going with a different niche, so she helped me figure out the ropes. Well, that little group exploded into a big group very quickly. Our focus evolved over time to one of support in the indie writing process, and I developed some amazing writer friends.

At the beginning of 2020, I opted to discontinue the book blog because it was taking a considerable amount of time and failed to yield the kind of exposure for my authors they needed and deserved. To market them more would have meant less time for writing, and I had to make a choice I could sustain.

In the end, I’m more proud of Clean Indie Reads and what we’ve accomplished in support for so many writers than I am for any of my books. Founding that group has changed some lives for the better, and that’s what I always want to do: empower others to be their best self.

[Note: The FlinchFreeFiction FB page has been discontinued because it wasn’t getting enough traffic to justify the effort.]

June: Thank you stopping by to chat with us for this Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday, Lia. We enjoyed learning about your career as an author and wish you much more success with your creative pursuits.



Find the links to read more great Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts from middle-grade authors and bloggers at Greg Pattridge's 'Always in the Middle' Blog.

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Thursday, March 26, 2020


~Post Includes:  Book Spotlights, Excerpt,
Author Bio & Giveaway~
Happy Valley Return to Edisto JustRead Blog Tour 

Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for Happy Valley & Return to Edisto by Lin Stepp, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


Happy Valley by Lin Stepp Title: Happy Valley
Author: Lin Stepp
Publisher: Mountain Hill Press
Release Date: April 2, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Escape to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee in this sweet tale of two young people who meet by chance, their paths soon overlapping and intertwining amid a cast of warm-hearted characters in the small rural community of Happy Valley.

With Grandpa suffering a heart attack, Juliette Hollander saw little choice but to head back to their Tennessee mountain farm in Happy Valley to help out.  She didn’t expect, or want, to leave behind her life and work in North Carolina to return to her grandparents’ home so soon. Nor did she imagine meeting, and working with, the mysterious man she met briefly last summer and never thought to see again.

Walker Logan spent the last two years traveling the United States, seeing the beauty of the country and running from his past. But an old rock house he sees while hiking near Abrams Creek Campground unexpectedly calls to his soul. With danger close behind, he never stayed in one place long enough to put down roots. Yet now, with a new vision, he decides to take the risk.


Someone was following him. His heartbeat kicked up, and he felt a thin sweat break across his brow. Walker could see the black van still behind him. It had followed him for the last several miles. Revving his cycle, he turned off on the side road ahead, glancing into his rear view mirror as he did, only to see the van drive by him. He’d been wrong. Again.

It was time to get past this—long past time.

He slowed on the narrow country road and then gunned his motorcycle into a rough gravel driveway. Roaring to a stop, Walker switched off the motor and dropped his feet to the ground. He pushed the cycle over to prop it against the gate of the rural property, trying not to glance back to see if the van had returned. But he could only hear the quiet of the country now.

Walking around to shake off the tension, he let the sounds of the birds, the hum of insects in the field, and the sun overhead calm him. He hated these moments. It was time for a change, and he was headed in that direction. He’d be danged if he’d let one flashback spook him again.

PURCHASE LINKS*:  Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Return to Edisto Title: Return to Edisto
Series: The Edisto Trilogy #2
Author: Lin Stepp
Publisher: Mountain Hill Press
Release Date: April 2, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Return to Edisto Island in the rich, Lowcountry story of a young woman’s difficult decision to run from threat and danger, changing the course of her well-ordered life and, in turn, the life of the young man who loved and lost her.

It was a long trip back to Edisto Island, South Carolina, and the beach house that shaped so much of Mary Helen Avery’s early life. Now her mind flashed between anger and hurt over the difficult situation she’d left behind at the job she loved.  Was she doing the right thing to leave? Should she have stayed to fight? She hoped at the quiet, beloved island she knew so well, she’d find the answers she needed and peace from all this turmoil.

J.T.’s heart took a familiar lurch when he saw the car with New Jersey plates parked at the Avery’s beach house. Even after ten years, the memory of Mary Helen Avery still tormented him.  Finding her on the porch weeping lit old fires he thought long dead. Was he a fool to hope for something more between them with all their problems of the past? Probably so, but if she stayed long enough, he’d find one more chance to try.


“Hmmm.” Kizzy put a hand to Mary Helen’s face, lifting her chin until she could look in her eyes. “You’ve been hurt, girl.” She stroked a hand gently over Mary Helen’s cheek. “But don’t you worry none. The island is a good place for healing and the good Lord lives strong here. He’ll help you work things through.”

Mary Helen bit her lip, trying not to let tears leak out at the kind words. Kizzy had always been intuitive about things. …

Kizzy followed Mary Helen to the door and out on the porch, walking with her to the car. After Mary Helen put her groceries inside and climbed in, Kizzy put a hand on the door before Mary Helen closed it, leaning over to study Mary Helen’s face once more.

“You’re a preacher’s girl, but I’m seeing you’ve drifted off and away from your faith. Leaning only to your own understanding won’t help you find the best answers at this time.” She paused, shaking her head. “You know the One who’s got the best answers for everything, girl. You may be mad at Him right now and think He hasn’t been watching out for you like He should, but it’s you that’s distanced yourself from Him. You do a little seeking and you’ll find Him drawing near again.”

Mary Helen mumbled something in reply as Kizzy closed her car door. Pulling out onto the highway, she started crying and wept all the way to the beach house at Oleanders, hardly noticing the familiar scenery along the way. All the emotions she’d pushed down and held back this week seemed to suddenly overtake her.

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  PURCHASE LINKS*:  Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Lin Stepp

Lin Stepp is a native Tennessean, businesswoman, and educator. A New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Amazon best-selling international author, Lin has eighteen published books, including her twelve beloved Smoky Mountain novels, all set in different Tennessee and North Carolina locations, her newest Mountain Home book, a novella in one of Kensington’s Christmas anthologies, and two novels in her new Edisto Trilogy, set on the South Carolina coast. Lin and her husband, J.L., also write regional guidebooks, including a Smoky Mountain hiking guide and a Tennessee state parks book.

Stepp’s latest 2020 releases are Happy Valley, set in a quiet rural valley near the Smoky Mountains, and Return to Edisto, set at Edisto Beach, South Carolina. Lin’s previous title Claire At Edisto was the 2019 Best Books Award Winner in Fiction: Romance, sponsored by American Book Fest, her novel Welcome Back a finalist in the 2017 Selah Awards, and Lin and her husband’s guidebook Discovering Tennessee State Parks a 2019 American Book Fest Best Books Award Finalist in Nonfiction: Travel Guides and Essays.

Lin enjoys speaking for events, festivals, libraries, and book clubs, reading, hiking, exploring out of doors, and keeping up with her readers on Facebook, Twitter, and through her monthly blog and newsletter which you will find on her website at: www.linstepp.com

CONNECT WITH LIN: Website | Facebook | Twitter


(1) winner will receive a print copy of Happy Valley & Return to Edisto, matching bookmarks, and a $25 Amazon gift card!

Happy Valley & Return to Edisto JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule shown below. Giveaway will begin at midnight March 23, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on March 30, 2020. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US mailing addresses only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

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Sunday, March 22, 2020



ABOUT THE BOOK {from Goodreads}:
On an island off the coasts of Virginia and Maryland lives a centuries-old band of wild ponies. Among them is the most mysterious of all, Phantom, a rarely seen mare that eludes all efforts to capture her--that is, until a young boy and girl lay eyes on her and determine that they can't live without her. The frenzied roundup that follows on the next "Pony Penning Day" does indeed bring Phantom into their lives, in a way they never would have suspected.

Phantom would forever be a creature of the wild. But her gentle, loyal colt Misty is another story altogether.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR {from Goodreads}:

Marguerite Henry (April 13, 1902-November 26, 1997) was an American writer. The author of fifty-nine books based on true stories of horses and other animals, her work has captivated entire generations of children and young adults and won several Newbery Awards and Honors. Among the more famous of her works was Misty of Chincoteague, which was the basis for the 1961 movie Misty, and several sequel books.

"It is exciting to me that no matter how much machinery replaces the horse, the work it can do is still measured in horsepower ... even in the new age. And although a riding horse often weighs half a ton and a big drafter a full ton, either can be led about by a piece of string if he has been wisely trained. This to me is a constant source of wonder and challenge." This quote was from an article about Henry published in the Washington Post on November 28, 1997, in response to a query about her drive to write about horses.

Marguerite Henry inspired children all over the world with her love of animals, especially horses. Author of over fifty children's stories, including the Misty of Chincoteague series, Henry's love of animals started during her childhood. Unfortunately, Henry was stricken with a rheumatic fever at the age of six, which kept her bedridden until the age of twelve. Born to Louis and Anna Breithaupt, the youngest of the five children, Henry was a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Because of her illness, Henry wasn't allowed to go to school with other children because of her weak state and the fear of spreading the illness to others. While she was confined indoors, she discovered the joy of reading. Soon afterwards, she also discovered a love for writing when her father, a publisher, presented her with a writing desk for Christmas. On the top of stacks of colored paper her father wrote, “Dear Last of the Mohicans: Not a penny for your thoughts, but a tablet. Merry Christmas! Pappa Louis XXXX.”

Henry's first published work came at the age of eleven, a short story about a collie and a group of children, which she sold to a magazine for $12. Henry always wrote about animals, such as dogs, cats, birds, foxes, and even mules, but chiefly her stories focused on horses.

In 1923, she married Sidney Crocker Henry. During their sixty-four years of marriage they didn't have children, but instead had many pets that inspired some of Marguerite’s stories. They lived in Wayne, Illinois.

In 1947, she published Misty of Chincoteague and it was an instant success. Later, this book—as well as Justin Morgan had a Horse and Brighty of the Grand Canyon—were made into movies.

She finished her last book, Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley, just before her death on November 26, 1997 at the age of 95.

(John) Wesley Dennis (May 16, 1903-September 5, 1966) was an American illustrator best known for his collaboration with author Marguerite Henry, with whom he published 15 books.

He illustrated over 150 books in his lifetime, including  Anna Sewell's Black Beauty and John Steinbeck's The Red Pony. He also wrote and illustrated a few books of his own, among which are Flip, Flip and the Cows, Flip and the Morning, and Tumble.

As I may have mentioned a few hundred times since I launched this blog, I adore historical fiction. I especially enjoy rereading my favorite books from my own middle-grade years--and there are a lot of them because I have been a voracious reader since I was in Kindergarten!

As your read in the above author biography, Marguerite Henry wrote many horse stories. I checked several book sites and found that this 'Misty' series included four books:
  • Misty of Chincoteague
  • Sea Star
  • Stormy, Misty's Foal 
  • Misty's Twilight
I remember reading Misty and Stormy as a middle-grader, but I do not remember reading Sea Star. Misty's Twilight was published in 1992, obviously long after I was a middle-grader. 😊  When I checked out the Misty of Chincoteague paperback from the local library recently, I also grabbed Stormy, Misty's Foal and Misty's Twilight.

I really enjoyed rereading this featured novel a few decades after I originally read it! I was a girl who enjoyed reading horse and dog stories when I was a middle-grader, and that hasn't seemed to change much now that I'm a bit older, although I still remain young at heart.

This author does a fantastic job of documenting the Beebe family's history in this story set on Chincoteague Island, which is four miles east of the Virginia shore. Mrs. Henry shares about the family and other townspeople and the original Chincoteague ponies in a note to readers before Part One of the story begins.

The language in this story is so interesting because much of the dialogue is written in the regional dialect of the Chincoteague Island inhabitants. The narrative consists of higher-level vocabulary and the rich cultural history of these islands and the history of how the ponies arrived on Assateague Island after the capsize of a Spanish Galleon named Santo Cristo in this story. No date is given for the shipwreck, but I did some research and discovered that a ship named La Galga did capsize in this location in 1750.

Any part of the story involving the ponies takes readers on a wild, fast-paced adventure. The two main characters, siblings Paul and Maureen Beebe, are normal middle-graders in the mid-nineteenth century. They love spending time with their grandparents and their farm animals, and they work hard to earn money to make a special purchase, the nature of which I will not reveal in case you want to read this story.

I highly-recommend this book as a family or classroom read-aloud as it opens up opportunities for many discussions about small-community dynamics, animal welfare and conservation, and environmental awareness.

***BONUS CONTENT:   The following information was submitted to me by my author friend,  Rinda Beach
Thanks, Rinda!  🐎 🐴 😁
--Question:  Assateague Island is part of which two U.S. states?

Virginia/W. V      Louisiana/Georgia       Maryland/VA            Maryland/Delaware

Source: Atlas Obscura | Date Updated: March 17, 2020

Learn More: Assateague Island is located in two U.S. states: Maryland and Virginia. The island is known for its bands of wild horses that wander the sand dunes and even go swimming in the ocean. No humans live on the island, so it is operated by three services in order to protect the environment and wildlife: the National Park Service, Maryland State Parks, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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A Special Message from June--I'm sending out my good wishes to each of you hoping that you and your family and friends remain safe during our world's current health crisis. 😊 🙏

🔖📕📖📗📘📙📚 🔖📕📖📗📘📙📚 🔖📕📖📗📘

***Please join me next Monday, March 30th, as I feature Indie Author Lia London and her new middle-grade fantasy, 'Be Careful Where You Wish'.  The post includes a book spotlight, author bio, author interview, and fantastic bookish giveaway!****

🔖📕📖📗📘📙📚 🔖📕📖📗📘📙📚 🔖📕📖📗📘

Find the links to read more great Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts from middle-grade authors and bloggers at Greg Pattridge's 'Always in the Middle' Blog.

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