Guest Post with Janel Gradowski, author of Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes & Summer Drinks Prize Pack Giveaway (Open Int’l)

Good day folks.  We’re back to yet another Monday.  Time stands still for no one.  We’re still roasting away here in our summer heat wave.  Looking at the wonderful guest post Janel Gradowski, author of Doughnuts and Deadly Schemes (my review – I loved it!), has written for us I have to say that coffee is by far my favorite beverage but right now I’m seriously considering making it iced instead of hot!  I hope you enjoy the guest post from Janel and be sure to enter the giveaway for some summer beverages and sweet chocolate!

Essential Beverages for Writing by Janel Gradowski

When I am working on a writing project I stay well hydrated. Not because I make a conscious effort to drink a lot of fluids. No, part of my creative process involves incessantly sipping whatever beverage is near my computer. I guess it’s a sort of drinking meditation for mulling over plot problems. I’ve seen other writers talk about red licorice, chocolate and various other snacks as essentials for their writing.  Me…I’m an obsessive sipper instead of snacker. So here is my list of favorites:

Coffee – Judging from the amount of coffee shops now, I’m sure I’m not alone in my undying love for this caffeinated brew. I’m lost without my programmable coffee maker, which has hot coffee ready and waiting when I get up every morning. That jolt of caffeine is a great way to jumpstart a sluggish writing muse who just wants to go back to sleep.

Tea – I’m not as obsessed with tea, like I am with coffee, but I still love it. I adore the aroma of Earl Gray so much I once bought perfume in that scent. Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer blend is my favorite herbal variety. While I’ll drink it hot or cold, I don’t use sweetener or cream/milk. Straight up, please. The one exception is an Arnold Palmer, half tea, half lemonade – a perfect drink for summer.

CitrusAde – I make single servings with whatever citrus I have on hand, usually limes. Squeeze the juice of one lime or half of a lemon into the bottom of a glass. Add liquid sweetener – stevia, agave nectar or simple sugar syrup (equal parts sugar and water heated until the sugar dissolves). Add cold still or sparkling water. Gently stir and check to see if it needs any more sweetener. Tip: I buy cans of LaCroix flavored sparkling water. They’re the perfect size to make these drinks and there is no excess to go flat. Plus you can add another layer of flavor to your drink. Lime juice with coconut LaCroix is my favorite.

Water + Mint ­ Every summer I plant a big pot of mint that lives near my back door. An area herb farm always has a variety of flavored mints, so I try a new one every year. There is chocolate, pineapple, apple and orange mint to name a few. It’s a great way to make water a bit more appealing. Just pick a small sprig with 3 or 4 leaves. Rinse, put in a glass, bruise leaves a bit with a spoon to release the flavor, then fill the glass with water. The longer it sits the stronger it will taste.

Water Kefir – This is a probiotic (similar to the live and active cultures in yogurt that makes it good for your digestive system) beverage made out of sugar water. It’s sort of like kombucha – if you are familiar with that, but without the tea. I have just been making water kefir for about a month, but I love it. It’s sort of like weak lemonade on its own, but when juice is added and it’s allowed to ferment a second time the kefir turns fizzy. A kind of natural soda pop that’s good for you.

Rum – I rarely imbibe in alcohol when I’m writing, but I do love a good rum cocktail sometimes when I’ve finished my work for the day. My favorite spirit is rum, especially the dark or spiced varieties. Excellent in a Dark & Stormy – rum, ginger beer (like gingerale, but with a stronger ginger flavor) and a squeeze of lime. If you replace the rum with vodka, then you have a basic Moscow Mule.

So that’s the list of beverages that I usually cycle through while I’m writing. I do have soda pop once in a while, I love Faygo Rock & Rye or Cream Soda, but I try to stay away from so much sugar.

Is there anything you think I should add to my list of drinks? What is your favorite beverage?

About Doughnuts and Deadly Schemes

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Amy Ridley’s best friend, Carla, is getting married, and Amy is delighted to be recruited as the head wedding planner—even if Carla’s demands are less than conventional. Case in point: Carla insists on a tower of doughnuts in place of a wedding cake. But navigating the world of nuptials becomes the least of Amy’s problems when the owner of a menswear shop is found dead, and Carla’s fiancé is assigned to the case. With the honeymoon in jeopardy, Amy and Carla vow to help track down the killer…but they soon discover there are even more sinister happenings affecting the businesses in downtown Kellerton, Michigan. If Amy doesn’t figure out who is behind the deadly schemes, the nearly newlywed detective may just be solving another murder—hers!

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About the Author

JanelGThere are hundreds of fictional characters living in my mind. I love to let them out to play in my stories. I have written about everything from an insane ghost to a jealous wife with an explosive personality. Over the past few years many of my flash fiction and short stories have been published both online and in print. I have also been designing and publishing beadwork patterns for over 10 years. In 2012 I began publishing ebooks in my 6:1 Series. Each volume has six stories based on one theme. In 2013 I will begin publishing a culinary fiction series based in my home state of Michigan. While I love writing flash fiction, this new series will include novellas, novelettes and longer short stories as well as flash fiction pieces.

My favorite place to write is in my recliner, nestled into the corner of the living room. I can glance over my laptop screen and watch the wildlife perusing the field across the road. Everything from deer to turkeys and pheasants pass by as I wrestle the characters out of my head and onto the page. My almost constant companion and writing buddy is my beloved Golden Retriever, Cooper. He’s a great listener and always reminds to get up a stretch once in awhile, on the way to his treat jar. Besides my fur baby my family consists of two wonderful children and a fantastic husband.

Author links: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads
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1 Summer Drinks Prize Pack up for giveaway! (includes a bag of Donut Store Blend ground coffee, lemon & ginseng green tea, liquid stevia and a package of milk chocolate bars)

Janelgive(click on the photo for a closeup view)
*CLICK HERE* and fill out the form to enter
Draw Date July 15/15


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Source: Post information received from the author and obtained from the author’s website with permission. Giveaway sponsored by the author. No compensation was received.

The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango


The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango is a dark and suspenseful crime thriller and it is so good!  I was sucked in by this book from the first page to the last and just couldn’t put it down.  It is a look into a very twisted mind and the brilliance of both committing and getting away with murder.

Henry seems like a great guy to all those looking in on his life.  He’s a famous writer who is riding high on his success but truthfully he’s not the brains behind the operation, his wife is.  One of his biggest secrets is that his wife has written all of his best-selling novels but that isn’t Henry’s only secret.  Oh no, he has a past brimming with secrets.  On the plus side he is devoted to his wife Martha – well other than the affair he’s been having for years with Betty, an editor from his publishing house.  Things are running smoothly along until Betty announces that she’s pregnant and Henry’s world begins to crumble before his eyes.

Henry begins to sort out the best way of dealing with what’s going on.  He thinks he has a plan but all it leads to is the death of his wife which obviously he didn’t want.  So more planning and there is nothing more interesting than an evil mind at work.  Seeing how they analyze and plan their moves is quite fascinating.  All Henry knows is that his carefully constructed world full of lies and even the truth must stay that way.  He can’t be caught for the present murders or for what has gone on in his past.  But there is someone snooping around in his business… does this person have the power to destroy Henry?

Of course you’re not going to like the main character Henry.  The purpose of this book isn’t to like him but be fascinated with the way he manages to pick everything apart and put together plans that he seamlessly carries out in the effort of keeping himself out of the clutches of the police even when it seems that he must be doomed for sure.

The Truth and Other Lies is brilliantly written and it’s one of those books that once you’re drawn into the intricate web of the story you can’t put it down until you reach the very last page.  This is the debut novel of Sascha Arango and I can’t wait to see what he writes next!  Highly recommended!

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Source: Digital review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review.  No compensation was received.

Watch the Lady by Elizabeth Fremantle – Spotlight & Giveaway (US only)

Happy Saturday!  I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.  We are in the middle of a heat wave and the most enjoyable thing to do is simply sit inside with the air conditioning on full blast and read!  Today I’m spotlighting Watch the Lady by Elizabeth Fremantle, the last book in The Tudor Trilogy. I really enjoy Elizabeth Fremantle’s writing and of course I love historical fiction so I’m really looking forward to relaxing with this book.  In the meantime read on to learn more about the book and be sure to enter for your chance at winning a copy.


About the Book

The daughter of the Queen’s nemesis, Penelope Devereux, arrives at court blithely unaware of its pitfalls and finds herself in love with one man, yet married off to another. Bestowed with beauty and charm she and her brother, The Earl of Essex, are drawn quickly into the aging Queen’s favour. But Penelope is saddled with a husband who loathes her and chooses to strike out, risking her reputation to seek satisfaction elsewhere. But life at the heart of the court is not only characterised by the highs and lows of romance, there are formidable factions at work who would like to see the Devereux family brought down. It seems The Earl of Essex can do no wrong in the eyes of the Queen but as his influence grows so his enemies gather and it is Penelope who must draw on all her political savvy to prevent the unthinkable from happening.

Told from the perspective of Penelope and her brother’s greatest enemy the politician Cecil, this story, wrought with love, hatred and envy, unfolds over two decades in which we see the last gasps of Elizabeth’s reign, and the deadly scramble for power in a dying dynasty.

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Praise for Watch the Lady

‘The research and historical detail are impeccable. Fans will enjoy this evocation of Elizabeth’s tumultuous court.’ The Times

‘Popular period drama at its backstabbing best.’ Sunday Sport

‘I was gripped by this tale of risky political and sexual shenanigans in the court of Elizabeth I’ Woman & Home

‘Watch the Lady is a glorious novel, rich in Tudor detail and splendour, chilled by Tudor cruelty and jealousy…An enormously exciting historical thriller.’ Kate Atherton, For Winter Nights

‘Amazingly thrilling.’ The Bookbag

‘Wonderfully addictive… atmospheric and exciting.’ Bookshelf Butterfly

‘Be transported to the court of Elizabeth I, where Penelope Devereux is prepared to do anything in the scramble for power. Watch The Lady by Elizabeth Fremantle combines fast-paced storytelling with rich period detail’ Good Housekeeping

About the Author

photo: Poppy Miyonga

photo: Poppy Miyonga

As a child I was the one in the corner with my nose in a book who wanted to be a writer, but with the onset of a turbulent adolescence I left school, under a cloud, aged fifteen with nothing more than a fistful of O Levels and a hapless sense that things would somehow work themselves out. Eventually, after working in various dodgy dives – I’ve served grey scrambled eggs to squaddies at 5.30am; I’ve served vintage champagne to raucous hoorays; I’ve pulled pints for all and sundry – I managed to find myself, much in the way Forrest Gump always landed on his feet, working as a dogsbody on a fashion magazine. Over a decade, I worked for titles such as Vogue, Elle and The Sunday Times and contributed to many others. Marriage took me to Paris, a stint at French Vogue and the birth of my two gorgeous children but divorce saw me back home in London where I have happily remained. Fuelled by frustration with a fashion world that does no favours to women, I decided to complete my truncated education as a mature student which led, in a long and roundabout way with many frustrating impasses, to my fulfilling that childhood dream to become a novelist.

Elizabeth has a first in English and an MA in creative writing from Birkbeck, University of London. She has contributed to various publications including The Sunday Times, Vogue, Vanity Fair, The Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. She also reviews fiction for The Sunday Express.

Elizabeth has contributed to The Tudor Times, in their edition about Penelope Devereux.

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1 paperback copy up for giveaway
*CLICK HERE* and fill out the form to enter
Draw Date July 11/15



Source: Post info taken from the author’s website. Giveaway sponsored by the publisher. No compensation was received.

HFVBT Presents D.J. Niko’s The Oracle Cover Reveal & Giveaway, June 15-26

I can’t wait for this book to come out and what a fantastic cover! This is Book Three in The Sarah Weston Chronicles and this is one fantastic series. I loved the first two books and I’m anxiously waiting for this one. Read on to learn more…


Publication Date: November 10, 2015
Medallion Press
Paperback; 456p
ISBN-13: 978-1605426273

Series: The Sarah Weston Chronicles, Book Three
Genre: Historical/Archeological Adventure

About the Book

In Delphi, the mountain city deemed by the Greek gods to be the center of the Earth, a cult of neo-pagans re-create with painstaking authenticity ancient rituals to glorify the god Apollo and deliver oracles to seekers from around the world.

When antiquities are stolen from a museum in nearby Thebes, British archaeologist Sarah Weston and her American partner, Daniel Madigan, are drawn into a plot that goes beyond harmless role-playing: someone’s using the Delphian oracle as a smoke screen for an information exchange, with devastating consequences for the Western world.

Pitted against each other by the cult’s mastermind, Sarah and Daniel race against time and their own personal demons to uncover clues left behind by the ancients. Their mission: to find the original navel stone marked with a lost Pythagorean formula detailing the natural events that led to the collapse of the Minoan Empire.

But will they find it in time to stop the ultimate terrorist act?

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About the Author

Daphne Nikolopoulos, photography by Lauren Lieberman / LILA PHOTO

Daphne Nikolopoulos, photography by Lauren Lieberman / LILA PHOTO

Daphne Nikolopoulos in an award-winning journalist, author, editor, and lecturer. Under the pen name D.J. Niko, she has written two novels in an archaeological thriller series titled The Sarah Weston Chronicles. Her debut novel, The Tenth Saint (Medallion Press, 2012), won the Gold Medal (popular fiction) in the prestigious, juried Florida Book Awards. Her follow-up release, The Riddle of Solomon, continues the story of British archaeologist Sarah Weston as she seeks the relics—and mystical secrets—left behind by the biblical King Solomon in remote Israel.

Daphne is currently at work on The Oracle, book 3 in The Sarah Weston Chronicles, which releases in 2015. Also slated for publication in 2015 is her first historical novel, The Judgment, which is set in Israel and Egypt in the tenth century BCE.

In addition to writing fiction, Daphne is editor in chief of Palm Beach Illustrated magazine and editorial director of Palm Beach Media Group. Prior to that, she was a travel journalist who logged hundreds of thousands of miles traveling across the globe, with emphasis on little-known and off-the-beaten-path locales—many of which have inspired her novels.

Daphne frequently lectures about her research on the ancient world. She is an instructor at Florida Atlantic University’s Lifelong Learning Society, teaching on the subject of archaeology. She has also spoken to audiences at the Jewish Community Center of the Palm Beaches’ Academy for Continuous Education, and several libraries and private groups throughout Florida.

Born and raised in Athens, Greece, Daphne now resides in West Palm Beach with her husband and twin son and daughter. You can find her on the Web at and connect with her on Facebook (AuthorDJNiko) and on Twitter: @djnikobooks.


To enter to win an Advanced Reading Copy of The Oracle by D.J. Niko please complete the giveaway form below. Two copies are up for grabs!

⇒ Giveaway is open to residents in the US, UK, and Canada.
⇒Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on June 26th.
⇒You must be 18 or older to enter.
⇒Only one entry per household.
⇒All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
⇒Winners will be chosen via GLEAM on April 27th and notified via email. Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
⇒Please email Amy @ with any questions.

The Oracle Cover Reveal + Giveaway


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Source: Post and Giveaway information supplied by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.  No compensation was received.