Spotlight & Excerpt: The Secret Recipe for Moving On + Giveaway

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The Secret Recipe for Moving On
by Karen Bischer
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: March 23rd 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

When Ellie is dumped by her boyfriend, she’s forced to make new friends (while watching her ex swoon over his new girlfriend) in The Secret Recipe for Moving On, a smart and funny YA debut from Karen Bischer.

Ellie Agresti’s not sure anything could be worse than being dumped by her boyfriend, Hunter, the first day of senior year.

But sharing a “life skills” class with him and his new girlfriend, Brynn? AND getting partnered with a “family” of misfits (A.J., the loudmouth; Isaiah, the horse-racing obsessive; and Luke, the tattooed stunt-biker)?

It’s a recipe for certain disaster…until an in-class competition allows Ellie to channel her angst into beating Hunter and Brynn’s team, and she unexpectedly bonds with her own group–especially Luke–in the process.

But as Ellie soon discovers, it will take more than classroom triumphs to heal her broken heart–and find herself again.

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I’ve got a huge case of “don’t mess with me” by the time I get to the home ec room. If I have to spend the rest of the year watching this train wreck, then I intend to let everyone know how unhappy I am to be here. It’s better than being the sad and hurt victim, which is probably what Hunter is expecting me to be.
Hunter and Brynn arrive at the same time. Their heads are bent together, and they’re smiling as if sharing some sweet, cute little secret.
When they see me glaring at them, both of their faces stiffen and they swallow hard as they sit down at our table. I’d like to think they’re feeling guilty, but I’m not sure either is capable of it. More than likely they’re afraid of me, because Brynn makes a point to leave an empty seat between us. Like that space will stop me from kicking another globe at her or something.
After the bell rings, Mrs. Sanchez leans on her counter and peers at our table over her glasses. “It appears as if Paul Wilder has been expelled for his little stunt the other day.”
It’s only then that I notice Paul’s chair at the table next to ours is still empty. I’m relieved that I won’t have to be dealing with him again, but what does that have to do with us?
“And since your group has five people, and our assignments will call for groups of four, I was hoping one of you would volunteer to join Paul’s family to replace him.”
I feel my face grow hot as I scan my table. There’s Steve and Hannah, both Hunter and Brynn’s friends. And then there’s Brynn, Hunter’s new lady love. And the man of the hour himself. All of them are staring at me.
They expect me to volunteer to go.
You have got to be kidding me. I mean these people may be my new sworn enemies, but I’m not trading them for a group of delinquents and the opportunity to relive my middle school angst for the next nine months. No way, no how.
When none of us says anything, Mrs. Sanchez laughs. “I guess you’re all really tight. But you’ll still be in the same class. Surely one of you can join another group.”
Nope. Not me. Luke is staring at me, probably relishing the idea of teasing and laughing at me on a daily basis.
“I’m afraid if one of you doesn’t volunteer, I’ll have to pick someone,” Mrs. Sanchez says, annoyance rising in her voice. Good, let her pick. I’m not being pushed out of this group as if I’ve done something wrong.
“We don’t bite, yo,” A.J. says, tipping his chair back and lacing his hands behind his head.
Brynn leans toward Hunter and whispers, “I can’t believe her.”
“Can’t believe what, Brynn?” It comes out of my mouth before I can stop myself.
Brynn’s mouth hangs agape as she struggles for something to say. I feel kind of vindicated.
Until Luke speaks up. “Hey, Mrs. Sanchez. What if we pick someone?”
Mrs. Sanchez sighs. “Seeing as how this group is too stubborn to do anything, I think that’s a wonderful idea, Mr. Burke.”
Luke smiles. “I think there’s a little too much testosterone in our family, right, guys?” he says nodding at his group mates. I close my eyes, preparing for my utter humiliation.
“Okay,” I hear Luke say, and I suck in my breath. “We’d like Brynn.”
Huh? I open my eyes and exhale. Brynn is completely slackjawed. “Me?” she squeaks.
“Ms. Potts, gather your things and join their group,” Mrs. Sanchez says. “I think this is a more than sensible solution since none of you are volunteering.”
“B-but,” she sputters, looking helplessly at Hunter, who is shaking his head in dismay.
“Now, Ms. Potts!” Mrs. Sanchez snaps, clearly at the end of her patience.
And that’s when Brynn starts to cry. Like, her nose gets red and tears spill over. Her hands are shaking and she lets out a little sob as she pushes in her chair. Hunter makes a grab for her free hand. Hannah tries to pat her on the back. It’s like Brynn’s being shipped off to a war zone or something. And it makes me realize I’m now going to be viewed as the monster of the group for daring to stick to my guns.
“Oh, for the love of god,” I grouch, standing up and grabbing my backpack. “I’ll go.”
Brynn is totally stunned into silence as I huff over to the next table and sit down in Paul’s vacant seat with a heavy plunk. I don’t look at any of the guys and will my hands to stop shaking. I stare straight ahead at Mrs. Sanchez, who shakes her head, perplexed. I’m kind of confused myself, though I’m not really thinking rationally right now. All I know is there’s no way I’d let Brynn play the martyr, as if her anguish was somehow worse than the pain she and Hunter inflicted on me.
It’s only then I notice the guys in the group are all gaping at me.
“Hey,” A.J. mouths, wiggling his eyebrows at me. I quickly turn my attention back to Mrs. Sanchez.
What have I done? Oh god, what have I done?
Mrs. Sanchez is oblivious to my horror as she walks around the room, placing unmarked manila envelopes on each table. “Inside these are different income brackets for your family. We have everything from ‘Grad Students on a Budget’ to ‘Dual Income Investment Bankers.’ You will also find your monthly expenses and you’ll have to figure out a realistic budget for your family based on this.”
The classroom is suddenly buzzing as everyone opens their envelopes to find out their status. A.J. grabs the envelope off our table.
“May I do the honors?” he asks.
The guys nod, and A.J. unhooks the clasp on the envelope. He reaches in and pulls out a stack of papers, and reads something on top of the pile. His smirk fades away.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” he says. He sits back in his seat, disgusted, as he tosses the papers on the table. Clipped to the top of the stack is an index card, with “Single Mother, Two Kids” written on it in thick black marker.
“Maybe it won’t be that bad. Maybe the mom’s some big-shot executive,” Luke says, picking up the stack. He peeks under the index card at the first sheet of paper and his face falls. “Oh. She’s a bus driver.”
A.J. and Isaiah are shaking their heads at the stack of papers, as if it somehow has the capability to know it’s disappointed them. Luke, however, is studying me. I decide now is as good a time as any to let him know he can’t intimidate me, so I shoot what I hope is a defiant look back at him. But instead of mocking me, his eyes quickly shift away, the tips of his ears turning slightly pink.
I’m momentarily confused, but then I notice Steve and Hannah high-fiving, Hunter pumping his fist, and Brynn, having done a complete emotional 180, dancing in her seat. Hannah is holding their papers, and I squint to read their index card: “Husband and Wife Investment Bankers, Two Kids.”
Of course.
“Now,” Mrs. Sanchez is saying, “every month you will be responsible for paying the bills in your pile. You’ll find a current budget for the family attached, but you will be making changes to it based on your income. The goal is to have some money left over each week to go into savings.”
Isaiah is skimming through the pile. “Well, it looks as if we’re making thirty-eight thousand dollars a year.”
“In this area? With two kids?” A.J. says. “There’s no way this is going to work.”
I’m kind of surprised he’s even aware of how far thirty-eight thousand dollars goes. A year ago, I had no idea how much money a family would need to get by. Now I’m all too familiar with it. I didn’t suspect other kids in an area as middle-class as Ringvale Heights would have to worry about such a thing.
I’ve noticed Luke has stayed pretty silent on the subject, but he’s reading one of the pages.
“The mom is in the process of paying off hospital bills for her recently deceased husband,” he says quietly, and I’m surprised at his sober tone.
Everyone at the table is silent as this registers. Well, everyone but A.J. “Hey! How are we going to be able to make this budget work?” he says accusatorily at Mrs. Sanchez. “We’ve got bills coming out of our ass and barely any money coming in.”
“Please refrain from swearing, Mr. Johnson,” Mrs. Sanchez says, but she smiles. “I know your income is pretty low, but with a little smarts and teamwork, you’ll make it. I promise. Now, let’s move on to picking out names for your families. Maybe think of something that invokes the lessons of this class or teamwork!”
Teamwork. I survey the group at my table: A gambling addict in training, a loudmouth, and a tattooed goliath who may or may not be crushing on Brynn. “Making it” is somehow going to be impossible.


Author Bio:

Karen Bischer has written short stories for Girls’ World and Animal Tales magazines and currently works as a copyeditor. She lives in her native New Jersey, where she has never encountered Bruce Springsteen in the wild, but does have a cat named after a member of the E Street Band.

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Audio Spotlight & Excerpt: A Hundred Kisses + Top Ten List

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Title: A Hundred Kisses

Author: Jean M. Grant

Narrator: Rosalind Ashford

Length: 10 hours 49 minutes

Series: The Hundred Trilogy, Book 2

Publisher: Jean M. Grant

Released: Jul. 23, 2018

Genre: Romance


  1. Two wedding nights. Two dead husbands.

Deirdre MacCoinneach wishes to understand her unusual ability to sense others’ lifeblood energies…and vows to discover if her gift killed the men she married. Her father’s search for a new and unsuspecting suitor for Deirdre becomes complicated when rumors of witchcraft abound.

Under the facade of a trader, Alasdair Montgomerie travels to Uist with pivotal information for a claimant seeking the Scottish throne. A ruthless baron hunts him, and a dark past haunts him, leaving little room for alliances with a Highland laird or his tempting daughter.

Awestruck when she realizes her unlikely travel companion is the man from her visions, a man whose thickly veiled emotions are buried beneath his burning lifeblood, Deirdre wonders if he, too, will die in her bed if she follows her father’s orders.

Amidst magic, superstition, and ghosts of the past, Alasdair and Deirdre find themselves falling together in a web of secrets and the curse of a hundred kisses….

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Author Jean M. Grant’s Top Interesting Viking Facts

The “hundred” trilogy spans three generations, from 1263 to 1322 (check out my bonus material for the series – family lineage, map, and complete glossary.). I delve into Norse, Scottish, English, and “mystical” cultures in the books. Since my first book in the series has a lot of Norse action and plots, I thought it would be fun to share some Interesting Viking Facts:

  1. Vikings refer to people of Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Sweden) from 750-1300 A.D., though their reign had greatly diminished after 1100 A.D.
  2. They put rocks inside the keel of a ship beneath removable planks for stability, and longships were made with a shallow draft and square sails to navigate rivers, coastal waters, and fjords, as well as open sea.
  3. There were three main types of ships: longships (warships that could carry 100 men), cargo ships (called knörr), and small coastal river ships.
  4. How did they navigate? Simple Mother Nature (including birds and the color of the sea), a sunstone, and the night sky. And luck. They were messy navigators, and even messier fighters. Though this unorganized brutality caught many opponents by surprise.
  5. They traveled far: ranging to Russia, Africa, and Asia Minor, and as far west as North America (Newfoundland) around 1000 A.D.
  6. Some Norse words present in English: Thursday (Thor’s day), window (vindauga), guest (gestr), anger (angr), husband (húsbóndi) to name a few of hundreds.
  7. Viking women had a freer status compared to many in Europe for this time period, with duties of maintaining the farm and wealth; some could be rune masters, priestesses, merchants, and warriors.
  8. The phrase “going berserk” comes from the elite warriors called Berserkers (Old Norse berserkir, “bear-shirts”) and úlfheðnar (“wolf-shirts”). These crazed warriors were rumored to either have supernatural powers (possessed by animal spirits), or modern theory suggests this trance-like frenzy was induced by drugs, alcohol, or precipitated by mental illness.
  9. Viking men loved blond hair and would use lye to bleach it.
  10. Though information abounds online, my primary resources included a tour of the Draken Harald Hårfagre, and several books including: The Sea Wolves, A History of the Vikings by Lars Brownworth; Norse Myths by Martin J. Dougherty; Vikings: Raiders, Traders, and Masters of the Sea by Rodney Castleden.

Jean has a penchant for the misunderstood be it sharks, microbes, or people (fictional and real). A scientist by training, she now spends her days as an author and champion for her children. She has five published novels in the genres of historical and contemporary romance, and women’s fiction. She also writes for family and travel magazines and websites. When not writing, she enjoys tending to her flower and vegetable gardens, tackling the biggest mountains in New England with her husband, and chilling with her children, while taking snapshots of the world around her and daydreaming about the next story. Find her on


Narrator Bio

I am also an Audible-Approved narrator and producer, and a member of both Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) and SAG-AFTRA, the unions for professional performers. (Bit of a mouthful I’m afraid.)

I was born and raised in Worcestershire, England and trained in Dramatic Arts—dance, drama and film—in conservatory programs at Madeley College and Keele University, UK. I moved to NY in part to pursue a career in theatre, in part to satisfy a strong wanderlust. Whilst I have, since then, performed onstage from Off-Broadway to regional theatre and on film and TV, I also detoured into other fields over the years.

Microphone training and a great deal of valuable voice experience was acquired as a radio presenter, and for a number of years I read Books for the Blind live on the air—great on-the-job training for audiobook narration! I have also done many voiceovers and radio commercials for national and international markets.




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Spotlight + Excerpt: Silver Dawn Afire + Giveaway

Silver Dawn A fire

Silver Dawn Afire
by Sonja J. Breckon
(The Seventh Age Saga, #1)
Publication date: March 16th 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Myridians are coming, each wielding one of Six Cataclysmic Powers that will lay waste to the world and wake the God of Neutrality. What happens when one refuses to succumb to her myridian nature and sets out to save the world instead?


SIDRA ANATOLA will soon die a human death and be reborn as one of the myridian, beings destined to destroy the World of Aetheria. In a desperate attempt to change her dark fate, she flees home and the young man she loves to seek help from a powerful entity who has lived through all the ages. But she may not make it in time before she is killed by hunters—or by the love of her life, also a myridian, who fights every day to hold onto the emotions that made him human.

BRESEIS ERISWEN was expelled from the academy and failed her father who expected her to carry on her late mother’s profession as a myridian hunter. But Breseis never wanted to be a hunter—she refused to kill, and she never believed in myridians, to begin with. She leaves home with big dreams, lacking experience, and a broken heart, to prove that she is more than a failed hunter.

Two contrasting paths converge to become a turbulent one. A mouthy intellect with a colorful personality, and a skilled warrior with a frosty attitude, put their differences aside and travel the rest of the way together, robbing temples, angering false gods, and escaping numerous predicaments with their lives. Amid the chaos, they form a friendship despite a gut feeling that both hide dangerous secrets that can save or destroy the world and each other.

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The susurrus of voices and the shuffling of bodies filter in from the parlor just outside the room where a small crowd has gathered, though not for Sidra’s sake. Most either don’t know she’s here, don’t know she’s dying, or don’t care. Some are people from the streets who, like Sidra and me, have gone into the brothel to take shelter from the rumbling mountain and the chaos in the streets; others are the brothel’s residents, Eslanda’s girls who live and work here.
“They found her,” Eslanda announces from the doorway.
She enters the room with a young woman embellished by a thin yellow dress that clings to her naked form underneath. She has reddish-brown skin; her cheeks and nose splashed with dark freckles, and her hair falls just below her ears in springy reddish-black curls. She reminds me of my good friend, Evolet, back in Valdania: lovely and kind and incredibly talented.
Can it be that simple? That Eslanda can send someone into the city to find a healer, and Sidra be magically cured as a result? I don’t think anything is that simple, so there are no feelings of hope or relief when the woman steps into the room. Okay, maybe some hope, but not much.
“This is Nesrin,” Eslanda says. “She’s the best healer I know; I’ve seen her do extraordinary things.”
“But Sidra’s not sick,” I point out kindly. “She’s cursed.” I grasp the top of Sidra’s hand, absently trying to comfort her; Sidra’s fingers feel clammy against my skin.
The healer, named Nesrin, steps up closer; she smells of begonia and a hint of honeysuckle. I notice the woman carries no satchel or anything that might indicate she is a healer. Where are the salves and herbs that traditional healers often possess?
“I have banished as many curses as I have healed diseases,” Nesrin says in a honeyed voice. “I make no promises, but I will do my best to help your friend.”
I release Sidra’s hand, and I stand.
“You know Banishing Craft,” I say; it is as much a question as a statement.
“I am one of few left with the gift,” Nesrin says.
“Gift?” I make a face. “Forgive me for saying, but Banishing Craft is as much a curse as the curses and diseases it cures—why do you still practice it?”
Nesrin places the palm of her hand to Sidra’s forehead; then, she sits down on the bed beside her; I move out of the way to give her more space.
“Because it is my calling.” Nesrin runs her fingers through Sidra’s hair. “If I die banishing the maladies of others, then it will be a good death.”
Um…okay; have to admire her dedication, at least.
Banishing Craft is one of the most sought-after crafts in all of Aetheria—because it almost always works, even against so-called unbreakable curses and incurable diseases. But like all things involving life and death, there are consequences. The one using Banishing Craft is at risk of dying from the same curses and diseases they cure. It is why there are so few of their kind left. And few ever seem to care for the healer’s life when they are so worried about the lives of their loved ones, and I have always felt bitterly of such people—I’ll be damned if I became one of them.
“I don’t feel right about this.” I pace, one arm across my midsection, the other propped atop it at the elbow; my fingers curled underneath my chin. “I mean, of course, I want someone to help her, but I…” I bite my lip. “But by agreeing to it, I feel like I’m trading one life for another—it’s just not right.”
“Do you want your friend to die?”
“Of course not. But I don’t want you to die either.”
“Your conscience is clear,” Nesrin assures. “I choose to help her.”
“You don’t even know her.”
Nesrin smiles softly.
“One day you will understand,” she says and turns to Sidra. “I would like everyone to leave the room.”
My arms drop to my sides, and I just stand here, not liking the idea of leaving Sidra alone with anyone.
Sidra moans in her unconscious state, and her body trembles and sweats profusely against the linen that covers the small bed. I can only imagine what horrible images the fever is trying to burn from Sidra’s mind.
“All right,” I give in. “But if you need me…”
Nesrin nods.
“Let’s go sit in the parlor.” Eslanda reaches for my hand.
“And please,” Nesrin says, stopping us, “do not come into this room unless I tell you. Many curses, when removed from one body, find another one to attach itself. Let it be mine, as I am experienced in such things.”
With reluctance, I follow Eslanda into the parlor, where several people are all standing and sitting around in groups of three and four, discussing amongst themselves what they think might be happening with the quakes in the city. I can’t bear to sit or stand still, so I pace, arms crossed, my bottom lip wedged between my teeth.


Author Bio:

Sonja J. Breckon is a builder of fantasy worlds and not ashamed to admit she lives in them more than in the real world. Besides writing books, she works with various programs to create her own cover art, interior art, design, formatting, and fantasy maps. She loves nature, the universe, coffee, and bookstores. Oh, and chicken potato enchiladas.

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