Tuesday, July 27, 2021

It Happened on Thunder Road by Susan Antony


Welcome to the book tour for It Happened on Thunder Road by Susan Antony! You can check out an excerpt here today before downloading your own copy. I also have another excerpt and an interview with the author over at Candrel's Crafts, Cooks, and Characters. Leave more questions in the comments section. Best of luck entering the giveaway!

It Happened on Thunder Road
Susan Antony

Genre: YA Fantasy Romance, Suspense, Paranormal Elements
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Date of Publication: 04-24-21
ISBN: 1509235329
Number of pages: 292
Word Count: 72000
Cover Artist: Kim Mendoza

Tagline: Hang on, baby, for the ride of your life.

Book Description:

When Emmy Russo returns to high school in Moncks Corner, South Carolina after summer break, she discovers some changes. First: Mom has a boyfriend. Second: the cute new student, Charlie Fields, is a Rockabilly greaser with a gang who obeys his every command. Third: attractive Keir Harper wants to be more than just her best friend. And fourth: a perplexed Emmy soon finds herself drawn to two extremely different boys. How do you choose between sweet and smoldering?

Then tragedy strikes on desolate Thunder Road. Strange things start happening, with Emmy in the middle of it all. Intent on finding the truth, she must fight for her heart, her life, maybe even her soul. Because someone wants to possess all of Emmy. And they will be together, no matter what the cost. For eternity.

Read an excerpt:
We faced each other for a beat or two. Then he placed his arm around my shoulder and took my hand in his, positioning his body a respectable distance away. We danced, slow and reserved at first, but as the singer’s wails intensified, so did Charlie’s moves. His hips swayed from side to side, and he inched closer to me, smidgen by smidgen, until his pelvis ground against my hipbones.

Our bodies melded, moving together in perfect synchronicity. Side to side. Back and forth. He moved his hand to my lower back and pulled me closer. I took in a quick, sharp breath. He

“You know, baby,” he murmured, “You and me have more than chemistry. We have fire. Not the easy kind of fire you can make from a box of matches, but the kind of fire you get when you rub two sticks together. I’m all yours if you want me.”

The world around me blurred as if I were watching it through thick lenses. I imagined Charlie’s lips against mine. I imagined him shirtless, propped above me, his triceps bulging as he slowly lowered his chest—mine rising toward his, beckoning him closer. He groaned a low animal-like sound. It drew me to him.

And I wanted him bad.

I wanted our bodies to burn in Hell together for all eternity.

What was happening? Had I lost my mind? I wasn’t ready. Was I?


Spasms of panic surged from my loins to the deepest recesses in my brain. In a sharp snap, the imaginary lenses cracked, and through the broken glass was a clear image of a boy with kind eyes and a halo of yellow hair.

Keir was my angel, and I was dancing with the devil. A devil who would betray his brother. A devil who would convince me to betray him as well.

I shuddered and pressed my free hand, fiercely against his shoulder. He clutched me tighter.

“Charlie, please. We can’t do this.”

“Why not?” he demanded.

I took in a long, ragged breath. “Because I don’t want to hurt Keir. He likes me.”

He forced a laugh and loosened his grip. My hand slipped from his, and he leaned toward me. His chin brushed against my cheek, and flesh bumps shimmied down my spine.

“That was the right answer, New Jersey,” he whispered in a throaty voice. “Welcome to the gang.”

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Susan Antony, an aspiring Renaissance woman, never shies from a challenge. Not only does she have a degree in the Liberal Arts, she has a degree in Automotive Technology. She currently works in the IT department at a local Charleston hospital. Susan lives with her teenaged son and two behaviorally-challenged Cairn Terriers. To maintain her sanity, she cherishes her Friday evenings dancing the night away!

Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@susanantony1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanAntonyCS

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusanAntonyCS

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susanantonyauthor/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57309229-it-happened-on-thunder-road

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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Review of Battle of the Bullies by Fenyx Blue


Welcome to the tour for Battle of the Bullies by Fenyx Blue! This is one that is going to stay with me for a while. Today I'm sharing with you an excerpt from the book as well as my thoughts. Be sure to follow the tour to read what other people thought as well, and leave questions and comments along the way. Best of luck entering the giveaway!

Ebony, Eris, and Emani Robertson have been through so much more than most high school freshman. When they were younger, they survived a school shooting that killed their friend and left their sister unable to speak. After giving home-schooling a try, they enroll in a promising new academy, hoping for the best. Unfortunately, they get the worst news. They have become the targets of an anonymous group of bullies who call themselves The Dimes. Can they bring down The Dimes all while trying to make it through the ninth grade?

Read an excerpt:
An Excerpt from Ebony

This week, my anonymous school survey seems to be a complete success. I’ve walked around the school visiting homerooms, telling them my story. Most of them somewhat know about my old school’s bombings. I answer their questions and offer a few of my best ideas for making changes at this school. School safety may be my platform. I haven’t fully decided.

The students have responded to my one-question survey in large numbers. The only question I asked is this: “If you could change one thing about this school, what would it be?” Replies can be anonymous, and are confidential.

Long lunch lines—Why do upperclassmen go first? —Anonymous

Theft—They stole my inhaler. I could have died from an asthma attack. —Anonymous

Lies—I have never had plastic surgery—I am not even done growing yet. Why would I need liposuction or any kind of work done on my lips, nose, or assets? No more lies, please. —Anonymous

Fees—I had to pay for books that someone else ruined! —Anonymous.

Rumors—They planted roaches in my locker, and everyone saw them crawl out. I was humiliated. I may not be live in a mansion, but we don’t have ROACHES! —Anonymous

Favoritism—I may not be a millionaire’s kid or have a famous last name, but I deserve the same education—even from student teachers. —Anonymous

Teasing—Everyone says I smell bad! —Anonymous

Confidentiality—They told everyone I had to cut my hair because I had lice. I’m sure I didn’t tell anyone but the nurse about that! She should be fired! —Anonymous

Peer Pressure!!! —Anonymous

Bullying—Check the internet . . . you’re on there, too. Sorry. —Anonymous

Gangs . . . oops, I mean the Dimes. —Anonymous

As I look through the rest of the surveys, one name continuously appears: Dimes.

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**My thoughts**

I was absolutely blown away by this book. I adore the three triplets, Ebony, Eris, and Emani. Each one of them has her own distinct personality and each is a strong young woman, even in the face of adversity and unspeakable tragedy. I admire their resilience and determination to fight against the Dimes and injustice. I realized at the end of the story that there is a book that came before this one and I am going to have to get that one soon to check out as well. 

Fear not, even though there is a book before this one, this completely works as a standalone story.

I actually think it would be amazing turned into a Netflix series or something like that. You have enough of the real world problems of school shootings, bullying, dating, sports, and more, with just a little added drama that makes it perfect for the screen. Fenyx Blue also makes every one of her characters come alive and jump right off of the page, so there is plenty to work with. Many times when characters as similar as triplets take turns telling a story, it can be confusing who is narrating without checking the chapter heading. But I didn't have to worry about that with this book, because each character truly had her own authentic voice. 

I think that a lot of young adult readers will be able to relate to a lot of this book, even if the Dimes are maybe a bit more exaggerated than what you typically see in the schools. And honestly, a lot of what they do is unfortunately too commonplace today. Most readers will not have access to the same supplies and methods to take down the bullies, but I think they will be inspired, nonetheless, to work on tackling the problems at their own schools. You could use this as a discussion launchpad with teens.

This story is going to stay with me for a while. I often read books in one sitting, but this one I had to stretch out a bit more. I was completely engrossed in it, but then also needed a break on occasion because it was an intense story. But that's completely up my alley when it comes to books. Like I said, I am planning on seeking out the other books in this series and will likely read this one again at some point. It really was well done.

Thank you to the author and Goddess Fish for fulfilling my review request. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

BLUE: Bold, Loving, Unapologetic, and Evolving are words to describe Fenyx Blue. Ms. Blue is an author, Youtuber (FENYX BLUE INK), speaker, ministry leader, mentor, instructional coach and her school district’s former “Those Who Excel” Teacher of the Year.

Ms. Blue is a soldier in the Blue Fenyx movement encouraging every phoenix in the world to rise up. Blue’s mission is to inspire, motivate and educate. Blue speaks to audiences about their purpose and power and works to coach other authors through their journey to become published.

Her novels are tools for teachers while being candy for students. Fenyx Blue has penned four books in her poetic collection in which she shares true life tales and lessons: Her first Young Adult novel entitled Who Failed Johnny? (Book 1 of The Triplet Trilogy), second YA novel Battle of the Bullies, a Children’s book called Worth the Weight: A Rare Gem, and a Poetry Book by the name of The Blue Ink Movement. With the help of her extended family and friends network, her self-published books will touch many lives this year.

Ms. Blue is a veteran English Teacher who has worked with readers K-12. However, her expertise lies with middle school and high school students which she has mentored, taught, and coached for almost twenty years. Blue created an organization called Team BFF (Team Bully-Free Forever) and has served as its coach for more than ten years. Her students have partnered with other schools, marched, and provided education on bullying. In addition, Blue directs a youth anti-drug program called Snowflake that helps students to solve problems, build relationships and make positive choices. She created an organization called Dads Rock to bring father figures into her school system to develop relationships with students in order to build their confidence and competence in school.

When Fenyx realized her school did not have an activity for spoken word artists, Blue sponsored a poetry club of junior high students that went on to the final rounds of “The Louder Than a Bomb” competition. Her school has now expanded that club to reach all creative young people and to allow them to share their gifts. With the support of other educators, she developed DIVAS (Daughters Inspiring Values and Sisterhood) to build bonds between middle and high school girls and prepare them to be productive citizens.

Ms. Fenyx Blue lovingly refers to her squad as neighbors on her YouTube channel @Fenyx Blue Ink because she believes we are all connected in some way. One of her goals is to transform into the best version of herself as she helps others to realize their destinies. Ms. Blue is a native of Chicago, Illinois, and loves to travel, learn, garden, and read. Ms. Blue is currently working on finalizing Book III of The Triplet Trilogy before moving on to a work of nonfiction for teachers. Follow Fenyx Blue @FenyxBlueInk on all Social Media platforms.

Website for Ms. Fenyx Blue: https://fenyxblueink.wixsite.com/website

Battle of the Bullies

A group of upstanders versus a gang of bullies.

Worth the Weight

A Christian dad expressing his love for his daughter and the song he sings to teach her to love herself.

Who Failed Johnny?

A troubled, mentally unhealthy young man who is dealing with bullying while battling problems at home and the friendships he develops along the way.

The Blue Ink Movement

A bold, loving, unapologetic and evolving collection of inspirational, motivational and educational poems about women, education, culture, relationships, and spirituality.

The author will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner and a $5 Starbucks GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Importance of Jimmy Bob in The F.I.G. Mysteries by Barbara Casey


Get to know the F.I.G. Mysteries series by Barbara Casey and find out why the character Jimmy Bob is so important in them. Enjoy an excerpt and then follow the tour for even more! Best of luck entering the giveaway!



Dara Roux, abandoned when she was 7 years old by her mother. Exceptionally gifted in foreign languages. Orphan.

Mackenzie Yarborough, no record of her parents or where she was born. Exceptionally gifted in math and problem-solving. Orphan.

Jennifer Torres, both parents killed in an automobile accident when she was 16. Exceptionally gifted in music and art. Orphan.


Known as the F.I.G.s (Females of Intellectual Genius), three high-spirited 17 year olds with intelligent quotients in the genius range, accompany their teacher and mentor, Carolina Lovel, to Frascati, Italy, a few weeks before they are to graduate from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. Carolina's purpose in planning the trip is to remove her unusually gifted, creative students from the Wood Rose campus located in Raleigh, North Carolina, so they can't cause any more problems ("expressions of creativity") for the headmaster, faculty, and other students – which they do with regularity. Carolina also wants to visit the Villa Mondragone where the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, was first discovered and attempt to find out how it is related to a paper written in the same script she received on her 18th birthday when she was told that she was adopted.

Read an excerpt:
"Ouch! You're standing on my fingers!" This from the petite girl with a long, blond ponytail, wearing a nightgown, most of which was pulled up between her legs and tied into a knot at her waist to keep it from getting tangled on the limb where she was perched. Somewhere above her the sound of a saw and splintering wood filled the darkness followed by a stream of profanity repeated in several foreign languages for emphasis.

"It doesn't look right. It's supposed to have a rim and a dent." Clinging to a 12-foot ladder as she pointed the flashlight first this way and then that, the heavy-set girl wearing a nightshirt buttoned at the neck offered this with a slight lisp.

The girl with the blond ponytail giggled.

"What do you mean—dent?! Let me see that picture." The tall black girl completely hidden aimed her flashlight toward the magazine that was being thrust upwards through the thick branches in her direction.

"And the top is supposed to be rounded—like a button mushroom," the girl in the nightshirt added, the word "mushroom" sounding more like "muthroom."

"That's because it's circumcised," supplied the girl with the ponytail, from which she removed a small twig and a handful of leaves.

"Shekoo, baboo!” More profanity. “Okay. I know what to do." The tall black girl disappeared back into the upper-most branches of the tall plant that was more tree than bush. After several additional minutes, the sawing, crunching, and clipping sounds finally gave way to the more gentle sounds of tiny snips. And then, silence.

"That's it; everybody down."

The petite girl, with the magazine that had been overlooked in the last confiscation and now wedged firmly under her armpit, started the perilous descent first since she was nearest to the ground, followed by the tall girl. The girl in the nightshirt eased her way down the ladder juggling pruning shears, a hand saw, and scissors. Once on the ground, the three girls stood back to admire their work.

"That is one honkin' Peni erecti," said the tall girl causing a fresh explosion of giggles. "Let's get out of here." After quickly rolling down the legs of her pajama bottoms, the tall girl grabbed one end of the ladder and, along with her two friends, lugged it and the other tools back to the shed that housed lawn maintenance equipment. Task accomplished, they returned to their rooms, and to their individual beds, careful not to disturb the other dorm residents, the floor monitors, their suitemates and, most importantly, their slumbering dorm mother, Ms. Larkins. Within minutes, they fell into a deep, peaceful sleep—the sleep of innocent angels.

It would soon be light; and Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women would start another day.


When Carolina and the F.I.G.s return to Wood Rose, Dara decides that she wants to try to locate her birth mother when she learns that she might be living in New York City. Carolina, Mackenzie, and Jennifer accompany her and their search leads them to a secret dangerous shadow world hidden deep beneath Grand Central, constructed in what Mackinzie identifies as chevroned magic squares—N X N matrixes in which every row, column, and diagonal add up to the same number—and cloaked in the discordant B flat minor key music that only Jennifer can hear.


The three FIGs—Females of Intellectual Genius—graduate from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women after returning from New York City where Dara learned why her mother abandoned her all those years ago, and they are now attending universities where they can further their special talents. This means they will be separated from each other and from Carolina, their much-loved mentor and teacher who is “one of them,” for the first time in their young lives. They vow to try living apart for one semester, in the so-called real world that doesn’t include the orphanage; but if things don’t work out, they will come up with another plan—a plan where they can be together once again. Dara is invited through Yale University to take part in an exciting archeological project in China. Jennifer, once again visualizing black and white images and the unusual sounds of another cadence that seem to be connected to Mackenzie, is engrossed in creating her next symphony at Juilliard. Mackenzie, because of her genius at problem-solving, is personally chosen by a US Senator to get involved in a mysterious, secret research project involving immortality that is being conducted in a small village in China—not too far from where Dara is involved with the archeological site. Once there, however, she finds herself facing a terrifying death from the blood-dripping teeth of an ancient evil dragon. Her best friends, the FIGs and Carolina, rely on their own unique genius and special talents to save her as she discovers the truth of her birth parents.


Jennifer Torres, one of the three FIGs (Females of Intellectual Genius) who is a genius in both music and art, is the last to leave the closed rehearsal for her upcoming performance over Thanksgiving break at Carnegie Hall when she hears something in the darkened Hall. Recognizing the tilt of the woman’s head and the slight limp of the man as they hurry out an exit door, she realizes it is her parents who were supposedly killed in a terrible car accident when she was 15 years old. Devastated and feeling betrayed, she sends a text to Carolina and the other two FIGs—THURGOOD. It is the code word they all agreed to use if ever one of them got into trouble or something happened that was too difficult to handle. They would all meet back at Carolina’s bungalow at Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women to figure it out. As soon as they receive the text, because of their genius, Dara starts thinking of words in ancient Hebrew, German, and Yiddish, while Mackenzie’s visions of unique math formulae keep bringing up the date October 11, 1943. And as Carolina waits for the FIGs to return to Wood Rose, she hears warnings from Lyuba, her gypsy mother, to watch for the nightjar, the ancient name for the whip-poor-will.

In their search for “The Nightjar’s Promise” and the truth surrounding it, Carolina and the FIGs come face to face with evil that threatens to destroy not only their genius, but their very lives.

Find the books on Amazon


One of my favorite characters in The F.I.G. Mystery Series gets introduced in Book 1 – The Cadence of Gypsies. Jimmy Bob Doake is the night security guard at Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women, and it is his responsibility to make sure nothing irregular happens during the “witches’ hours,” as he calls late night.

Jimmy Bob managed to complete the 8th grade, but dropped out of school after that in order to help his parents with his younger brothers and sisters. In spite of this, as an adult, he has the soul of a poet; and it is during those late night hours that he pens his thoughts onto paper.

Jimmy Bob provides comic relief to some of the more emotional scenes involving the F.I.G.s and Carolina. But he also offers inspiration and hope because he is such a good and decent person trying to do the best he can with what he has. His old hound dog, Tick, does the same thing in his own way.

Jimmy Bob is very much a permanent fixture at Wood Rose, and I bring him back in The Wish Rider and The Clock Flower, Books 2 and 3, as well as The Nightjar’s Promise—Book 4 in the series. With the problems of campus politics, jealousies among students and professors alike, and rampant distrust of Carolina and the F.I.G.s, it is Jimmy Bob who sees things with a clear eye and pure, nonjudgmental heart. As Carolina and the F.I.G.s’ search for answers takes them to Italy, New York City, China, and the tombs of a Jewish cemetery in Virginia, it is Jimmy Bob and his faithful companion Tick who give the reader a sense of permanence and security—and of acceptance.

Originally from Carrollton, Illinois, author/agent/publisher Barbara Casey attended the University of North Carolina, N.C. State University, and N.C. Wesleyan College where she received a BA degree, summa cum laude, with a double major in English and history. In 1978 she left her position as Director of Public Relations and Vice President of Development at North Carolina Wesleyan College to write full time and develop her own manuscript evaluation and editorial service. In 1995 she established the Barbara Casey Agency and since that time has represented authors from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. In 2014, she became a partner with Strategic Media Books, an independent nonfiction publisher of true crime, where she oversees acquisitions, day-to-day operations, and book production.

Ms. Casey has written over a dozen award-winning books of fiction and nonfiction for both young adults and adults. The awards include the National Association of University Women Literary Award, the Sir Walter Raleigh Literary Award, the Independent Publisher Book Award, the Dana Award for Outstanding Novel, the IP Best Book for Regional Fiction, among others. Two of her nonfiction books have been optioned for major films, one of which is under contract.

Her award-winning articles, short stories, and poetry for adults have appeared in both national and international publications including the North Carolina Christian Advocate Magazine, The New East Magazine, the Raleigh (N.C.) News and Observer, the Rocky Mount (N.C.) Sunday Telegram, Dog Fancy, ByLine, The Christian Record, Skirt! Magazine, and True Story. A thirty-minute television special which Ms. Casey wrote and coordinated was broadcast on WRAL, Channel 5, in Raleigh, North Carolina. She also received special recognition for her editorial work on the English translations of Albanian children’s stories. Her award-winning science fiction short stories for adults are featured in The Cosmic Unicorn and CrossTime science fiction anthologies. Ms. Casey's essays and other works appear in The Chrysalis Reader, the international literary journal of the Swedenborg Foundation, 221 One-Minute Monologues from Literature (Smith and Kraus Publishers), and A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation).

Ms. Casey is a former director of BookFest of the Palm Beaches, Florida, where she served as guest author and panelist. She has served as judge for the Pathfinder Literary Awards in Palm Beach and Martin Counties, Florida, and was the Florida Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators from 1991 through 2003. In 2018 Ms. Casey received the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and Top Professional Award for her extensive experience and notable accomplishments in the field of publishing and other areas. She makes her home on the top of a mountain in northwest Georgia with three cats who adopted her, Homer, Reese and Earl Gray - Reese’s best friend.



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Thursday, July 1, 2021

Review of Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: The Remix by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

A remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning for ages 12 and up.

A timely, crucial, and empowering exploration of racism--and antiracism--in America.

This is NOT a history book.
This is a book about the here and now.
A book to help us better understand why we are where we are.
A book about race.

The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This is a remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning, winner of a National Book Award. It reveals the history of racist ideas in America and inspires hope for an antiracist future.

Stamped takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.

Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative, Jason Reynolds shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas--and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.

Book Links
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**My thoughts**
As I have embarked on my own ABAR studies and work, I have cultivated a lengthy list of recommended books. Certain books appear time and again on numerous list recommendations. Of course, Ibram X. Kendi is one of the top authors. I fully admit that when I was ready to start my next read, I glanced at my curated wishlist on Amazon and grabbed this one because it was one of the least expensive. And I am glad I was led to that decision. This is a book that I think everyone should read.

Author Jason Reynolds is known for writing books more geared toward the younger generation. I think it was brilliant for him to take Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning and break it down. After all, the original is about 500 pages long. Readers are more likely to want to read a more abbreviated version. This book hits on all of the high points of the full text and delivers it in a very conversational format.

I think that aspect is key. We are talking about the need to have conversations. And reading this made me feel like I was sitting drinking a coffee or a beer with Jason while he imparted some serious knowledge on me.

Many of these names were familiar to me. But I never before realized how much I didn’t know about their full stories. I’ve been learning some, thanks to some excellent Great Courses lectures. But this really opened my eyes to even more

And while this book is written with the slightly younger set in mind, I think it is an important one for adults to read as well. It lays the foundation for learning more history than we got at school. Ideally, you will want to then move on to the full text, which I already had on order before I was finished with this one.

I also hope it will inspire some inner reflection in readers. Will you challenge what you have learned and seek out more of the story? Will you better understand the current racial climate and the experiences that your Black friends and acquaintances have had in their past and continue to face? And will you finally recognize yourself as being in one of the three groups – segregationist, assimilationist, or antiracist?

Will you have better conversations?

I know there will be some who have a problem with this book. They are the ones who have the most work to do and would benefit greatly from the education inside it. I hope more people are willing to open their minds to this conversation and are willing to use this book to help them join in. I think this is belongs on required reading lists. I am glad I included it in my reading and will definitely read it again.