Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Elvia and the Gift of Passion by Ruthy Ballard (Spotlight, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY)


Elvia and the Gift of Passion


Ruthy Ballard




GENRE: Middle grade science fantasy






Adventurous ten-year-old Elvia is sick of her dull-as-dishwater existence, suffocating under the stifling watch her overprotective parents. She longs for a different life, with more freedom and fun. But she gets more than she bargains for when she discovers an alarming family secret and is swept away on an adventure 64,000 light years from Earth. 

Tanzanian witch doctors, child-eating lions, and submarine exploration on a two-mooned planet enliven this science fiction fantasy adventure, the third in Ballard’s award-winning Tales by Moons-light series.







It was on an otherwise ordinary Friday afternoon in summer, two weeks after her tenth birthday, that Elvia learned, with a thrill, that she was someone else.


Her mother’s carefully tended sunflowers— precisely pruned to four feet, and not a centimeter taller— peeked through the sunny western windows as Elvia eagerly sorted through the stack of mail that had just arrived. Her father’s work papers, organized in neat rows, sat on a desk in a far corner, a symbol of the carefully orchestrated life her parents liked to live. In Elvia’s dull-as-dishwater home, every day was the same—safe and predictable. There were rules: She could study the violin, but not play soccer. She could take a June class in jewelry-making, but not join her friends at Copper Creek Camp, where all the fun was. She could walk around town, but not ride a bike. She didn’t even have a bike! For a child who longed to roam the world, and maybe live on Mars one day, the list of forbidden pleasures was suffocating. There was only one way out of her dilemma, and, as she pawed through the letters, she hoped against hope that she’d find it.


The slender envelope, addressed to her, and her alone, was at the very bottom of the heap. Her hands trembled with excitement as she tore it open, sure it would explain why she had fiery red hair, while her parents both had mousy brown. It would expose how an adventuresome girl like her got saddled with parents who always hugged the safe shore, rarely taking her any further than the local Shop ’n Save for a “great deal” on paper towels.


The letter was from Quick Results, a DNA testing company operating out of somewhere in Kansas. A few weeks back, when she’d seen an ad online, she’d leapt at the chance. For just sixty dollars—her monthly allowance—she’d get confirmation of the truth that, to her, was obvious: She’d been switched at birth. Or perhaps she’d been kidnapped from her cradle and sold to Earl and Sally Hill, her parents, who were desperate for a baby after losing her older sister, Jane, to cancer, many years before. She didn’t ask herself why her orderly, rule-abiding father and mother would swing a heartless deal on the black market. Logic played no role in Elvia’s daydreams. It was the sense of adventure they brought her that mattered: the sweet promise that someone, somewhere, would rescue her from a life of crushing boredom.


Amazon buy link

The book is on sale for $0.99 for a limited time



AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Children’s book author Dr. Ruth (Ruthy) Ballard is a scientist by trade who never thought she’d be one. Intimidated by science as a kid, she almost gave up on pursuing it as a career though she found it fascinating. Fortunately, a mentor stepped in and showed her the way. Now, she’s passionate about doing the same for the next generation of science shy, but creative, smart and capable kids. Her award-winning science fantasy adventures lure children in with compelling characters and entertaining, twisty plots that incorporate science in fun, accessible ways.


When Ruthy isn’t writing, she is “Dr. Ruth Ballard,” a forensic DNA consultant and a professor at Sacramento State, where she runs a forensic biology research and training program while consulting with attorneys across the country on criminal cases involving DNA evidence. She’s also a folk artist who loves to draw, illustrates her own books, and enjoys hiking and camping with her husband and their four dogs near their home on the Oregon coast.







Amazon Author page




a Rafflecopter giveaway

The tour dates can be found here


My review:

3.75 stars


Elvia and the Gift of Passion by Ruthie Ballard follows discontented ten-year-old Elvia who yearns to escape from her overprotective parents and have adventures. An unexpected trip to Tanzania grants her wish in a very unusual way.

This middle grade story is thought-provoking and fantastical and a little macabre, and definitely not a plug for tourism to the country of Tanzania. I enjoyed the overall journey as Tavia has her adventures and learns about perception and caring for the feelings of others as well as herself. The imaginative aspects of Urth and its inhabitants, the concept of “uppies” and “findlings”, and the descriptions of the travel on Urth is vivid and compelling, and full of fun twists and turns, and I had fun with the anagrams of various characters’ names.

Certain parts of the story are disconcerting for me, including the nonchalant discussions about lion (or other big cats’) predation upon children and the attendant responses, and the challenges on the submarine were particularly relevant to today’s sorrowful headlines. I am also disappointed that so many of the natives are two-dimensional and were not shown in a particularly favorable light.

I think that kids will get a kick out of Elvia’s adventures and will probably connect to that frustration with parents that make one wish to trade them in for a better model. There are many lessons, both scientific and ethical, that are deftly conveyed in a fun and entertaining manner, and I hope that readers will be prompted to explore more about the concepts presented in this story.

A copy of this title was provided for review

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Love is All, Volume 6 by Gabbi Grey, et al. (Spotlight and excerpt)


Love is All

Volume 6


Gabbi Grey, BL Maxwell, Chantal Mer & Susan Scott Shelley, Connor Peterson, Nic Starr, Sean Michael, Lee Blair, Xio Axelrod, RJ Scott & V.L. Locey, and Piper Malone


The sixth edition of LOVE IS ALL features ten brand new stories from bestselling and award-winning authors, including BL Maxwell, Chantal Mer & Susan Scott Shelley, Connor Peterson, Gabbi Grey, Nic Starr, Sean Michael, Lee Blair, Xio Axelrod, RJ Scott & V.L. Locey, and Piper Malone. They celebrate the universal human right that is to love and be loved.

All proceeds will go to three organizations that support and defend LGBTQIA+ rights: the Unity Coalition, Out Memphis, and Lucie's Place.

The anthology will only be available for a limited time.


Add it to Goodreads


Excerpt – Big Sky Boyfriend by Gabbi Grey

The day Tate McCready walked back into my life was just an ordinary Friday. And I was doing the same thing as I’d done pretty much every day since he left years ago—surveying my pumpkin field to make sure things were growing properly.

A few things had changed. I’d finally bought the greenhouses I wanted, and I was growing organic bok choy.


Fifteen years. One hundred and eighty months. Seven hundred and eighty weeks. Five thousand, four hundred and seventy-five days.

Give or take.

He’d left on the last Sunday in August—headed to the big city of Toronto to attend an undergraduate business program.

I’d stayed behind to attend the University of the Fraser Valley for agriculture.

We’d been eighteen. So goddamned young. I could barely remember that boy now.

But I’d never forget the grief he’d suffered. The nights he’d lain awake. The promised letter that’d never come.

So what the hell was Tate doing here now? On my land? At one of the busiest times in my year? Those pumpkins would be ready to be picked soon—just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving and, of course, Halloween.

Seeing Tate nearly stole my breath.

I fingered the inhaler in my pocket.

He advanced toward me with slow, measured steps.

I’d never seen him move so deliberately. He was a mover. A strider. A man who hustled with great speed.

We’d joked he moved at the speed of a hare while I moved at the speed of a tortoise.

I was very much a slow, steady, and measured man. Had always been—would always be.

“Hello, Wyatt.”


Universal Link: Universal link

Amazon US




The Charities

https://www.unitycoalition.org/ is a Latinx and indigenous organization in Florida that organizes and supports several LGBTQ+ arts, leadership, and awareness programs across Florida, including the Miami Gay Chorus and the “Saber es Poder” campaign for HIV education and testing.

https://www.outmemphis.org/ offers direct aid and support programs to queer and trans people in Tennessee. Regular events at the center’s main facility include free HIV testing, trans ID workshops and financial aid for name changes, community meals, and peer support and social groups for both teens and adults. The organization also runs The Metamorphosis Project, a program providing emergency support and transitional housing to unhoused LGBTQ+ youth.

and http://www.luciesplace.org/ named for Lucie Marie Hamilton, a young trans woman who died in 2009 — is a nonprofit in Arkansas that provides services to unhoused LGBTQ+ young adults, including transitioning resources and grocery and rental assistance. The group also runs a drop-in center with shower facilities and a community closet for all members who have completed an intake form.




Gabbi Grey

USA Today Bestselling author Gabbi Grey lives in beautiful British Columbia where her fur baby chin-poo keeps her safe from the nasty neighborhood squirrels. Working for the government by day, she spends her early mornings writing contemporary, gay, sweet, and dark erotic BDSM romances. While she firmly believes in happy endings, she also believes in making her characters suffer before finding their true love. She also writes m/f romances as Gabbi Black and Gabbi Powell.

Xio Axelrod

Xio Axelrod is a USA Today bestselling author of different flavours of contemporary romance. She also writes what she likes to call strange, twisted tales. Xio grew up in the music industry and began recording at a young age. When she isn’t writing stories, she can be found in the studio, writing songs, or performing on international stages (under a different, no-so-secret name). She lives in Philadelphia with one full-time husband and several part-time cats.

RJ Scott

RJ Scott is a USA TODAY bestselling author of over 140 romance and suspense novels. From bodyguards to hockey stars, princes to millionaires, cowboys to military, she believes that love is love and every man deserves their own happy ending.

VL Locey

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, Dr. Who, Torchwood, belly laughs, yoga, reading and writing lusty tales, walking, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.)

She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.

When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, fresh cup of java in hand.

Chantal Mer

Chantal Mer is an author and optimist. Her stories explore relationships and what it means to be family. When she’s not writing about strong women, strong men, and strong love, she can be found walking her adorable dog, volunteering at her kids’ school (in the library, of course), teaching at the local university, and reading.

Chantal lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, kids, Toffee the Wonder Dog, and vicious cat, Gracie.

Susan Scott Shelley

USA Today bestselling author Susan Scott Shelley writes stories with heat and heart, where love always wins. Her romances give readers lighthearted and emotionally satisfying escapes into happily ever after. In addition to crafting stories, she is also a professional voiceover artist and enjoys lending her voice to a wide range of projects.

She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and is an avid fan of her hometown sports teams. Her favorite things include running (honestly, it's more like jogging), sports (especially hockey), hard rock (but will listen to anything from heavy metal to show tunes), and writing about people from all walks of life finding their special someone.

Lee Blair

Lee Blair is a queer author from Oregon who writes low angst, funny, M/M contemporary romance. She's constantly amused by the antics of her two ginger cats, considers daydreaming about future trips to Scotland a part-time job, and is obsessed with Schitt's Creek to an alarming degree.

Sean Michael

Often referred to as "Space Cowboy" and "Gangsta of Love" while still striving for the moniker of "Maurice," Sean Michael spends his days surfing, smutting, organizing his immense gourd collection and fantasizing about one day retiring on a small secluded island peopled entirely by horseshoe crabs. While collecting vast amounts of vintage gay pulp novels and mood rings, Sean whiles away the hours between dropping the f-bomb and persuing the kama sutra by channeling the long lost spirit of John Wayne and singing along with the soundtrack to "Chicago."

A long-time writer of complicated haiku, currently Sean is attempting to learn the advanced arts of plate spinning and soap carving sex toys.

Barring any of that? He'll stick with writing his stories, thanks, and rubbing pretty bodies together to see if they spark.

Connor Peterson

Connor Peterson is a USA Today bestselling author of LGBTQ+ urban fantasy and dark, paranormal romance, local to the Philadelphia, PA area. The madman behind Deathspell and Temptation in Neon, Connor has also contributed to the story cycle Red Phone Box - published by Ghostwoods Books - and the anthology Nocturnal Embers - published by Crimson Melodies Publishing. He is also an active participant in the Philadelphia writing community, and volunteers as a municipal liaison for National Novel Writing Month.

Nic Starr

Nic Starr lives in Australia where she tries to squeeze as much into her busy life as possible. Balancing the demands of a corporate career with raising a family and writing can be challenging but she wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Always a reader, the lure of m/m romance was strong and she devoured hundreds of wonderful m/m romance books before eventually realising she had some stories of her own that needed to be told!

When not writing or reading, she loves to spend time with her family–an understanding husband and two beautiful daughters–and is often found indulging in her love of cooking and planning her dream home in the country.

Piper Malone

Piper Malone is an award-winning author of sweet and sexy romance.

Dog lover. Reader. Foodie. Coffee, please.

BL Maxwell

BL Maxwell grew up in a small town listening to her grandfather spin tales about his childhood. Later she became an avid reader and after a certain vampire series she became obsessed with fanfiction. She soon discovered Slash fanfiction and later discovered the MM genre and was hooked.

Many years later, she decided to take the plunge and write down some of the stories that seem to run through her head late at night when she’s trying to sleep.

BL Maxwell writes MM Paranormal, Contemporary, Thriller, and Paranormal Fantasy.